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The Road to Zero Injuries in the Danger Zone: The Leaders and Technology Making it a Reality

As an industry, we’re making significant progress improving student safety in the Danger Zone. With the growing number of Illegal school bus passing incidents and the ever-present risk to students, every day without student injury or death still comes down to luck.

A dedicated team of school bus safety experts is working to change that perspective. They believe we are closer to achieving full protection in the Danger Zone than you think.

Safe Fleet has been at the forefront of bringing student safety solutions to school transportation teams across North America since the early 80’s, starting with the introduction of stop-arms and roof-hatches by Safe Fleet brands Specialty and Transpec, and in the late 90’s with video surveillance from Seon. Today, many of the people behind these early innovations at Safe Fleet continue to dedicate themselves to protecting our literal hopes and dreams of a better future – our children.

“We are always looking for ways to improve safety – it’s the baseline for everything we do. We formed the Safe Fleet Advanced Technology Group (ATG) for this purpose. Starting at a grass roots level in 2015, we realized proactive, advanced technology was necessary to halt the rapidly progressing illegal passing epidemic. The ATG group envisioned, developed and refined the technology that would become the Predictive Stop Arm™ (PSA). And our contributions to the Stop for School Buses Act led to legislation to research the effectiveness of school bus safety solutions. I’ll always be proud to be a part of that.”

-Chris Akiyama, Vice President, School Bus Sales

These same professionals, backed with insight gained from countless collaborative discussions with industry associations, government legislators and school districts recently introduced the only holistic, comprehensive, multi-pronged suite of solutions to protect students in the Danger Zone: The Safe Fleet Illegal Passing Suite.

“Our history of bringing game-changing safety solutions to market is a point of pride for Safe Fleet. Today, we can comfortably say that almost every school bus in North America has a Safe Fleet product on it. Many of these changed the safety landscape at the time of their release. They continue to add to the level of safety each student experiences on their way to and from school. Each product also speaks to our ongoing, wide-spread commitment in safety as a whole inside and outside the bus.”

-Mike Hagan, Sr. VP, Safe Fleet Passenger Transportation, Law Enforcement & Waste

Every Second Counts: The Danger Zone solution that gives students the time to stay safe.

The Illegal Passing Suite includes groundbreaking, proactive technology designed to keep students from harm’s way in the first place. This solution addresses the longstanding problem of illegal school bus passing, increasing student safety in the Danger Zone with a three-step approach:

Step 1: Heighten visibility that the school bus is stopping or stopped.

The Safe Fleet Hi-Visibility, Illuminated Stop Arm and Driver Alert Device work together to inform drivers behind the bus about an upcoming stop. Placed on the back door, the Driver Alert LED panel flashes “Caution – Stopping” when the bus slows down and activates its 8-way lights. When the bus’s red lights are on and the Stop Arm is deployed, the panel flashes “Stop Do Not Pass.”

The Illuminated Stop Arm gets the driver’s attention with a highly reflective decal and the word “STOP” brightly backlit with LEDs. The arm deploys and lets drivers know the bus is stopped, and they should stop too.

Step 2: Proactively warn students of imminent danger.

The game-changing Safe Fleet Predictive Stop Arm™ (PSA) combines radar and predictive analytics to scan three lanes in each direction, covering 1,000 feet. By assessing the likelihood of a vehicle stopping in time, the PSA offers a spoken word alert: “STOP, GET BACK, ” when risk is present. This gives students a lifesaving 3-4 seconds to step away from potential danger.

“The PSA is keeping countless kids from harm and educating drivers (even those who are distracted have stopped their vehicles on a dime when they hear the PSA issue it’s audible alert to “stop, get back!”). And the case of one student in Minnesota, engrossed in his phone and failing to look for oncoming traffic, the PSA audible alert prompted him to stop abruptly, and the car that was on course to strike him came so close it knocked the cell phone out of his hands.”

-Chris Fox, Product Manager

Step 3: Help enforce proper driver behavior.

Powered by AI technology, the Safe Fleet Stop Arm Violation System utilizes HD video and edge computation to record instances of illegal pass-bys. This advanced solution activates automatically when the stop arm is deployed, accurately identifies vehicles passing the stopped bus and captures their license plates. High accuracy evidence packages are sent to the Safe Fleet cloud platform to facilitate evidence review and law enforcement ticketing. By holding drivers accountable, this system reinforces safe driving behaviors and encourages drivers to think twice before illegally passing a stopped school bus.

Together these steps tackle the issue by enhancing visibility, and by being proactive and enforcement driven.

The Illegal Passing Suite works. It can protect not just the one life we consider so precious, but many more. It can provide an improved level of safety for every student at risk in the Danger Zone. Today.

“We’ve been in the business of delivering safety for over 40 years. Throughout, we’ve been involved in various industry forums and committees to continuously advance student safety. Today, we remain a key and trusted safety solution provider because we develop and deliver best in class safety solutions that we stand behind throughout the life of the school bus. We want kids to be safe on and off the bus. And we put in the time and energy outside of our workdays to tirelessly communicate this to the people responsible for ensuring student safety first-hand.”

-Doug Campbell, Safe Fleet National OEM Account Manager

Where do we go from here?

Our automated stop arm violation detection and upcoming advanced blind spot detection systems will enhance the Illegal Passing Suite and make our vision of fully protecting students in the Danger Zone a reality.” (Mike Hagan, Sr. VP, Passenger Transportation, Law Enforcement & Waste)

The Illegal Passing Suite won’t just provide individual solutions; it will present a complete, end-to-end package that encompasses all aspects of school bus safety. This aligns with the evolving legislative landscape requiring school bus fleets to adopt technology for enhanced student safety in the Danger Zone.

Learn more about Safe Fleet, our vision, and the Illegal Passing Suite.

Download our White Paper. 


IMPORTANT NOTICE: No system can prevent all incidents. Inattentive drivers, weather, erratic student behavior, and other factors can inhibit detection and overall system performance. Drivers must always keep a proper lookout.


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