BCSC unveils new school bus safety features

A driver’s eye view from one of the new BCSC buses. White River Broadcasting photo

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. buses are the first in the state to get new features meant to protect students.

The school district showed off the new safety features yesterday. Karen Wetherald, transportation director for BCSC, explains some of the new equipment.

Those safety features include a collision avoidance system, 360 degree cameras and a computerized stability system that will slow and level buses to keep them from rolling over in a high-speed turn.

A dashboard camera is part of the anti-collision system in new BCSC buses. White River Broadcasting photo

The anti-collision equipment uses a camera and computer to scan travel lanes, other vehicles and road signs to provide warnings of upcoming dangers. The 360-degree camera system, with cameras mounted high atop the buses give a seamless view of the area surrounding the bus. The camera view is displayed in the same area as the bus’ rear-view mirror.

The new Thomas Built Buses each costs about $118,000, with less than $5,000 of that amount coming from the new safety features, school officials said. This year, BCSC added eight new buses to its fleet, all equipped with the safety features. Wetherald said that if the features work as well as expected, the district will continue to have the new safety features installed as part of future bus purchases.

School officials say that more than half of the district’s school buses are now equipped with seatbelts, or 76 of the district’s 131 buses. Wetherald said it was determined not to be financially feasible to retrofit older buses with seat belts, but all new buses going forward will have the equipment.

Clifford Zehr, the president of Kerlin Bus Sales and Leasing of Silver Lake said that BCSC is the first district in the state to order buses with the new features. Because of that, the schools got special pricing for the pilot program.

Students will first be transported on the new buses this fall.

Cameras stop the buses have an overlapping field of view, stitched together by computer to give the driver a 360-degree view around the bus. White River Broadcasting photo
A backup camera system warns drivers of obstacles behind the bus. White River Broadcasting photo
One of eight new BCSC buses equipped with first-in-Indiana safety features. White River Broadcasting photo