WHITELAND, Ind. - A central Indiana school district is testing out to new technology to help reduce the risk of crashes involving school buses.
The Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation was selected to participate in a pilot program for several features that enhance the skills of a trained bus driver. Two of their buses have been outfitted with special tools at no cost to the district.
"We are trying to go above and beyond with regard to what we’re doing to make sure our school buses are safe as they possibly can be," said Superintendent Patrick Spray.
First, a system of sensors alerts drivers if they leave their lane, follow too closely or go too fast.
"It will give you so long to change your speed," said Director of Transportation Robert Downin. "If you don’t, there will be another indicator that will do that."
The crash mitigation software is similar to features now included on many new normal cars.
"If you get too close, it will actually stop you and keep you from hitting the car in front of you," Downin said.
The two buses that are part of the testing also have a stabilizing tool, which can become very useful during Indiana winters that cause icy roads.
"If you’re in a sliding situation, it will actually take over and help you keep from sliding on the bus," Downin said.
Plus, a radar gives the person behind the wheel a better idea of what is ahead on low visibility days.
"On a foggy morning, you can't see well and you get in a low area," Downin said. "The radar will also tell you there is something in front of you and how far it is."
Downin tells FOX59 the official testing period for the features is over. He said all new International Buses will come equipped with the technology.
In the meantime, the district is investing its own dollars into other bus capabilities.
Many of its buses now have about eight surveillance cameras that can provide a full picture of what's happening on board and on the route. The video surveillance helps with driver training and student discipline.