School Bus Safety Innovations: The Ins and Outs of Electronic Stability Control

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shutterstock_326722904.jpgIntroduced in the 1990s, electronic stability control is a computerized technology that improves the stability of a vehicle by detecting loss of traction, or skidding. Electronic stability control is now available on some school buses, and many districts are weighing the pros and cons of investing in this school bus safety feature.

The Pros of Electronic Stability Control for School Buses

Electronic stability control (ESC) has proven itself to be a useful tool for large vehicles—so much so that the technology is now required on some commercial trucks and commercial and municipal buses. ESC systems are designed to reduce rollover accidents and prevent severe under-steer or over-steer conditions that could lead to loss of driver control. This is said to give drivers better vehicle handling and increased confidence.

Arguments For and Against Enhanced Technology

In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration enacted a new rule that would require ESC for certain large vehicles. School buses, however, were exempted from this requirement.

This exemption stems from the exemplary safety record of school buses, which are considered eight times safer to ride in than personal vehicles. Those arguing against ESC for school buses claim that the cost would reduce the number of school buses on the road, thereby reducing the number of students who could be safely transported. Critics also argue that ESC is more likely to prevent crashes at high speeds, which is inconsistent with the slower, stop-and-go patterns of a typical school bus.

Despite the decision by the NHTSA to exempt certain size school buses from the ESC requirement, many districts and school bus safety advocates are encouraging transportation departments to consider purchasing buses equipped with the technology.

Consumer Reports contends that while relatively few school bus crashes involve the loss of driver control, any technology that could prevent a crash should be utilized. ESC systems could also prevent accidents for school buses driving at high speeds. This is a relevant consideration for buses utilized to transport students and teachers on field trips or to athletic events.

To discuss the technological options that can enhance school bus safety for your district, contact the BusBoss team.

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