Kanawha County Schools testing out new school bus safety technology

SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County Schools, the state’s largest school district, is testing out new technology for school bus safety.

Transportation officials and bus drivers put on a demonstration Wednesday at the school system’s bus garage in South Charleston highlighting the Predictive Stop Arm alarm system.

“This is a pilot program that is going to give an audible warning to the child outside the bus and also a visible warning to the driver inside to let them know if there is going to be a car or truck that is going to be running the stoplight on our bus,” Brad Burdette, a Kanawha County Schools (KCS) bus driver told MetroNews.

The system works with radar technology in sensing a car’s acceleration or deceleration near a school bus. Burdette said it senses from a distance that the car is not stopping and it will give a loud audible warning to the student that is getting off the bus to stay in place and not move.

He added it will also give a visible warning to the drive inside the bus of the danger of the car passing.

Burdette was emotional speaking of the importance of the Safe Fleet sound technology, saying he thinks about his granddaughter’s safety all the time and that he knows incidents of passing school buses happen every week.

“We even get calls from concerned parents and citizens that see cars run buses,” Burdette said. “There are a lot of close calls. It’s only takes one incident to have a tragedy.”

Burdette said the county is trying to keep school bus safety at the forefront of the public’s mind. He said it is sad that when most people see the amber lights flashing on a school bus that they tend to speed up and try to pass it.

“It should just be common sense,” he said. “There are so many distractions though with people driving today. Cellphones and people generally do not pay attention so we have a lot of runners.”

This is a pilot program in conjunction with the State Department of Education and will be put on three buses in the county. Safe Fleet Sound, based in Canada, is the manufacturer of the technology and has it in 10 states.

There are more than 180 buses that run in Kanawha County that have more than 1,000 runs a day.