CINCINNATI — First Student, North America’s leader in student transportation, today announced a $9.8 million agreement with Child Check-Mate Systems of Navan, Ontario, Canada, to finish outfitting First Student’s fleet of 60,000 buses with a child detection safety feature and bus security system. By early 2009, the technology will be installed on new and existing First Student buses.
The Child Check-Mate system provides two-levels of safety for students. An electronic reminder system requires drivers to check the entire school bus for sleeping children at the end of each route. The system includes an additional component, called Theft-Mate, to increase security of unattended vehicles. This investment in bus safety technology marks First Student’s single largest purchase of Child Check-Mate units.
“As the industry leader, First Student has been out in front of the development, design and investment in bus safety technology,” said Mike Murray, President and CEO of Operations. “Safety is our foremost concern at First Student. Child Check-Mate and Theft-Mate help to ensure that each child gets to and from school safely each day.”
The Child Check-Mate system arms itself during the safety pre-trip routine each day before the bus leaves to pick up students. Upon return, drivers are trained to check the bus interior and every seat as they walk to the back of the bus to deactivate Child Check-Mate. Walking to the back of the bus as part of their daily routine reminds them to look for children who may have missed their bus stop. Failure to deactivate the system at the end of a route results in both audible and visual alarms, including a synthesized voice message.
Once the Child Check-Mate component is deactivated and the driver has left the bus, the system automatically sets Theft-Mate. This technology significantly improves the security of the school bus by detecting unauthorized entry.
First Student leads the industry in making significant investments in technologies that combine to enhance the company’s commitment to safely transporting children. The company is dedicated to seeking suppliers and technologies that add value to the safety effort. Other major safety investments include:
- Global positioning systems (GPS) are being installed on First Student buses to provide dispatchers with the exact location and speed of a school bus at any time. They also provide a record of each bus’ route and all of its stops, starts and passes.
- All First Student buses are equipped with safety crossing gates on the front of all buses to keep children from crossing directly in front of the bus so drivers can better see them.
- Flashing lights and extended stop arms warn motorists that children are boarding or unloading a bus.
- Every First Student bus is designed with well-anchored seats with high backs that are heavily padded to absorb impact and create a protective area.
- Smaller buses for preschool children and special needs students utilize car seats or specialized restraint systems.
“Often, school bus transportation is a child’s only means of getting to school, and therefore potentially their only access to education,” says Murray. “Making sure their ride is safe and secure is a tremendous responsibility that we take very seriously.”