School Bus Contractor Completes Nationwide Installation of Driver Event Recorders

An NTSB investigator enters the damaged school bus from the Chattanooga crash. NTSB officials immediately launched a Go Team to investigate the Nov. 21, 2016 crash. (Photo courtesy of the NTSB.)
An National Transportation Safety Board investigator enters the damaged school bus from the Chattanooga crash. NTSB officials immediately launched a Go Team to investigate the Nov. 21, 2016 crash. (Photo courtesy of the NTSB.)

In response to the fatal December 2016 school bus crash in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Durham School Services, the largest subsidiary of National Express, LLC., has fully implemented a comprehensive safety program that proactively monitors driver behavior.

DriveCam is the core of the Lytx video monitoring product that is part of the substantial safety effort. Durham completed the installation of the event recorders across its full fleet of 15,000 buses in December 2018, officials noted on Tuesday.

The solution uses video and artificial intelligence technology to track driver behavior and uncover coaching opportunities. It not only identifies risk and compliance issues, but also tracks fleet and fuel usage.

As a result, Durham was able to create a new definition of risk, which is built around such behaviors as lack of seatbelt usage, late responses or unsafe vehicle following distances. And working with Lytx, the contractor implemented a new driver coach program, which includes a driver scorecard that records improvements behind the wheel and shows a snapshot of each individual’s performance.

“Lytx technology has enabled us to notice critical details in driving behavior, like failing to come to a complete stop at stop signs,” said Bob Ramsdell, who National Express installed as its chief safety officer following the Chattanooga crash. “This sort of attention to detail allows us to identify not just when dangerous driving occurs, but understand how it happens, so that we can better prevent risk before it leads to an accident.”

Edward Flavin, director of communications for National Express, told School Transportation News that the company was able to reduce its average risk score by 46 percent, and its number of risky events by 44 percent this summer, compared to the same period last year.

Flavin added that, as of this report, DriveCam is now installed in nearly 18,500 of the company’s total fleet of 22,500 school buses across North America. In addition to Durham, National Express operates Petermann Bus in the U.S. and Stock Transportation in Canada. All told from all three divisions, the contractor operations transport 1.2 million students in 600 school districts per day, according to the company.

Durham initially began testing DriveCam in 2014, two years prior to the Chattanooga crash, in which six students were killed and over 30 were injured. The contractor worked with Lytx to customize the program, by designing unique policies, and creating a proprietary driver safety scorecard to fully embrace the company’s new proactive approach to safety, a Lytx spokesman explained to STN.

“[Durham] witnessed significant improvements in driving habits, including a reduction in coachable events, risk scores, and improved overall driver safety,” stressed spokesman Steven Silvio.


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The severity of the crash is illustrated by what happened to the top of the crushed vehicle. (Photo courtesy of the NTSB.)
The severity of the Chattanooga crash is illustrated by what happened to the top of the crushed vehicle. (Photo courtesy of the National Transportation Safety Board.)