I consider myself to be a conscientious driver. There’s a playground zone right near our house, and I drive through it multiple times every week, sometimes up to four times in one day. I get tail-gated sometimes for respecting the 30 km limit, but I’m sure I respect it at all times.
The two photo radar tickets I have received in that playground zone, for going 42 km/hour, would say otherwise. They would say that while I definitely know there’s a playground zone near my house, and while the vast majority of the time I respect it, there are at least two (and likely more) instances where something distracted me and I didn’t slow completely down.
My son started kindergarten and started taking the school bus in September of last year. His journey is brief, as we are the last stop on the route before the school, but those who board before him travel a good distance over highway and residential streets. His bus driver is also a very conscientious driver, likely much more so than me. He takes his riders’ safety to heart and I trust him to get my child to school safely every morning. But he’s also a human being, driving the exact same route every day, with a raucous crowd of school children to supervise while he’s driving.
What if there was a tool that could help his driving even safer?
There is! It’s called SafeSpeed, and I got to ride a bus equipped with this technology designed to stop school buses from speeding and keep our most precious cargo even safer. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for every 1.6 km increase in speed, the chance of an accident increases by 2%, the chance of serious injury increases by 3% and the chance of fatality increases by 4%. In a week-long monitoring exercise of 10 school buses in a major Canadian city, SafeSpeed recorded 702 incidents of buses travelling 10 km over the speed limit, 301 of speeds 15 km over the speed limit and 102 incidents of speeds 25 km over the posted limit.
I wholeheartedly believe that the vast majority of our school bus drivers are responsible and caring individuals, and that it is rare for a driver to be a chronic, deliberate speeder. But if I can miss a familiar playground zone with just two kids hollering in the back seat, then I don’t doubt that even our best drivers will occasionally exceed the speed limit by accident. A November 2016 school bus crash in Baltimore killed six adults when a medical incident left the driver unable to control his bus, accelerating to 30 km over the posted speed limit.
Using GPS to track posted speed limit in real time, SafeSpeed automatically prevents a bus from accelerating past the speed limit. During my bus ride around Calgary, I watched this technology in action. Once the driver attains the speed limit in a given zone, they are mechanically prevented from driving any faster. Of course, there is an override switch that is easily accessible for emergencies. When taking exits or ramps, acceleration control returns to the driver so they can safely merge. SafeSpeed doesn’t take the onus off our drivers, but it gives them a tool to ensure they are driving as safely as possible with our most precious cargo on board.
As parents, we hand our children over to their school bus driver every morning and hope to seem them home safe again at the end of the day. We can’t prevent all accidents, but we can help prevent fatalities and injuries by helping our beloved bus drivers respect posted speed limits. SafeSpeed is an easy-to-install, affordable tool that, beyond improving safety, can also lead to fuel savings, lower insurance premiums and reduced maintenance costs. It’s truly a no-brainer!
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