COVID-19
  • Salus and PURE Bioscience Introduce Hard Surface Disinfectant for School Buses By:

    In a post-COVID environment, cleanliness on school buses has become a paramount concern for education professionals. Disinfecting should no longer be a reactionary response due to “spikes in COVID cases,” but become part of a “daily routine.”  It is critical for school buses to be disinfected regularly, in a safe, and effective manner, to restore parents and students’ faith in virus-free bus transportation. While the market has many cleaning and disinfectant solutions, the teams at Salus Product Group and PURE Bioscience believe that the PURE® Hard Surface Disinfectant is the safest, fastest, and most efficient surface disinfectant for school buses. This, representatives said, is due to its patented chemical makeup. PURE® Hard Surface Disinfectant is strong enough to provide rapid and long-term effectiveness, yet safe enough to receive the EPA’s lowest toxicity rating available. PURE® has also received a GRAS Rating (Generally Recognized As Safe) from the FDA, unlike other brand-name products that use bleaches, ammonias or other harsh chemicals. “In school transportation, reducing exposure to chemicals and carcinogens is vitally important,” said Toby Drysdale, owner of Salus Product Group. “This solution represents a breakthrough for keeping students, drivers, and aides safe while riding the bus.” Silver Dihydrogen Citrate Salus Product Group is an authorized distributor of PURE Hard Surface Disinfectant by PURE Bioscience, a provider of proprietary antimicrobial products for pathogen and hygienic control.  The active solution behind PURE is Silver Dihydrogen Citrate (SDC), a broad-spectrum, non-toxic antimicrobial agent which is manufactured as a liquid and delivered in various concentrations. “We own the patent on SDC, which is a new molecule,” said Tom Myers, chief operating officer of PURE. “We developed SDC and, after patenting the molecule, spent a lot of effort to receive EPA and FDA approvals.” The development process for SDC has taken around 15 years. PURE spent the first five years developing the molecule, which has now received EPA approval for disinfecting surfaces as well as FDA approval for direct food contact without rinsing.  The product is unique in that it has a 30 to 120 second hospital-grade disinfectant kill, setting SDC apart from most other chemicals which take five to 10 minutes wet on the surface. While most other disinfectants require a post-application rise, the PURE solution can be applied to food and even infant bottles and pacifiers with no rinsing required. Vehicle Disinfection While PURE developed the SDC solution and passed through EPA and FDA approval stages, Salus Product Group provides a large variety of misting and airless disinfectant sprayers in handheld, backpack, and wheeled portable configurations.  Drysdale said that handheld sprayers seem to work best in school bus applications. Handheld sprayers releasing the PURE Hard Surface Disinfectant emit a smoke-like mist. “The mist is applied 2 feet above the surface – or 2 feet away from a vertical surface,” Drysdale said. “Spraying at a rate of 2 feet per second, it only takes 30 to 40 seconds to spray the length of an entire school bus.” “As with any school district, there is no one-size-fits-all applicator,” he said. “The handheld is an easy-to-spray solution, but we also provide high-capacity units and 50-foot hoses for larger districts with bigger cleaning lanes. We work closely with districts to assess their specific needs and find the best application for their disinfecting process.” Drysdale added that they are also looking into developing On-Board Dispensing Systems which would handle a single vehicle’s disinfection even faster than handheld sprayers and further reduce staffing burdens. The Science Behind Disinfecting Disinfection “log reduction” is a measure of a product’s ability to reduce pathogens on a scale of 0 log to 6 log, with 6 log representing the highest pathogen reduction. Bill Johnson of PURE Bioscience said that the PURE Hard Surface Disinfectant can reduce pathogens on a school bus on the order of 4 log to 5 log in approximately one minute. In addition to killing 99.999 percent of germs on hard surfaces, the disinfectant eliminates the SARS-CoV-2 virus (causes COVID-19) in 30 seconds on hard non-porous surfaces, and kills more than 31 harmful germs, viruses, and bacteria including MRSA, VRE, CRE, E. coli, Salmonella, Human Coronavirus, Norovirus, Influenza A (H1NI), HIV Type 1, Hepatitis B and C, and more. “There has never been technology like this before, and not only in pupil transportation,” Johnson said. “This the safest, fastest, and longest-lasting tool to fight bacteria, viruses, and fungi, while still being safe to use around children.” Myers said PURE Hard Surface is EPA-Registered (72977-5-73912), FDA approved, and GRAS rated. It received the EPA’s lowest Toxicity Rating of Category IV, with no harmful ammonias, bleaches, quats or other volatile organic compounds. “We are the only disinfectant that actually kills COVID-19 without any kind of warning on the label,” Myers said. “It can literally be used on children’s toys, baby pacifiers, and pet dishes safely and with no rinsing.”  Effective for up to 24 hours on untouched surfaces after application, the solution requires no mixing. It dries approximately three minutes after spraying, which saves districts time and money on rinsing and wiping. “There are other disinfecting sprays that are just as effective as PURE,” Drysdale said. “But those solutions require warning labels such as DANGER, WARNING, or CAUTION and require protective equipment to apply or require dilution. PURE has no such drawbacks for school buses. It acts faster than other disinfectants and provides longer untouched residual protection.” “An operator can spray the bus first thing in the morning,” he continued, “and that is the last time they’ll spray the bus that entire day.” Beyond the Bus Because PURE is not only specialized for buses, but for all facets of education, Johnson said that Salus has also seen widespread adoption in classrooms, staff rooms, athletic/training rooms, and other facilities. “It has been easy to help find champions for this solution beyond district transportation departments,” he said. “When we demonstrate for school districts, we frequently are flooded with teacher queries about why there aren’t bottles in every classroom!” Another unsung facet of a Read More >

Safety
  • Reducing Risk to Students in the Danger Zone By:

    By Deirdre O’Brien Technology and grassroots efforts join forces to increase safety outside the bus Students outside the school bus are far more vulnerable to risk of injury than those on-board the bus. And the risk to students outside the bus is rising every year, according to annual injury statistics. The 2018-19 school year saw 70 injuries and 17 fatalities related to school bus crossings. The 2019 NASDPTS survey on illegal school bus passing conducted across 39 states showed 130,963 school bus drivers reported 95,391 motorists had illegally passed a stopped school bus in a single day. With roughly 471,000 school buses in service in the US, this equates to over 340,000 illegal school bus passes per day and 62 million illegal passes per school year.   Motorist distraction and a lack of concern for the rules of the road Experts suggest we are dealing with a combination of motorist distraction and disinterest in observing rules and regulations. Motorists can be distracted by mobile phones, passengers, and other tasks/problems on their mind. Impairment, another form of distraction, arguably presents the most risk and a high level of unpredictability. Drivers who are indifferent to the rules of the road and how they operate their vehicles in the vicinity of a school bus present a completely different dilemma. How do you influence those who aren’t motivated to obey the law?  We have been trying to tackle this critical issue as an industry for years. Awareness and education programs, stop arms, crossing gates, and cameras have each helped reduce student injury and improve safety. But to get the number of children affected in school transportation-related accidents closer to zero, we need to acknowledge that any tool, technology, or awareness program that relies on human attention alone may not achieve perfect results. Today’s environments relentlessly challenge the focus and attention of every driver on the road. All signs point to an increase in these challenges, not a reduction in them.   Applying intelligent technologies and innovative thinking to a long-standing issue Roadways are becoming busier and distraction and other forms of driver inattention are on the rise. Should we continue to approach the problem using the same methods?  These tactics have effectively reduced an element of risk. Perhaps we couple these traditional methods with intelligent technologies that eliminate blind spots and issue visual and audible alerts to school bus drivers and those who are at risk, the students themselves?  At Safe Fleet, we believe Artificial Intelligence is the glue that brings the value of each individual safety tool – mirrors, video, and sensors – together, for a complete view of what’s going on. Not just detecting, but also providing a frame of reference. This might come in the form of an alert that tells the driver where the problem is, (for example – rear, right side of the bus) which could also be coupled with different alarms or spoken word, such as ‘child,’ or ‘car.’ Bringing intelligence into the safety mix adds clarity and the ability to respond quickly and confidently.  For example, school districts could employ technology that uses radar and predictive analytics to monitor oncoming vehicle traffic for probable stop arm violations. This technology would work alongside stop arm camera systems, mirrors and crossing arms. Each tool or system would play its role in protecting the child, but when danger is present, those who are at risk – the students, are notified by the advanced technology to stay back. This innovative approach alerts the students to take immediate and life-saving action. It helps keep students from entering into the Danger Zone in the first place.  There is also a strong case for intelligent 360° systems that provide a complete overhead view of the perimeter of the bus coupled with object detection functionality. The bus driver is provided with a passive, blind-spot-free view of their surroundings along with an active alert system to aid the driver in taking faster and more responsive action when danger is present.  This approach to adding intelligence to safety equipment helps identify what is important and ignore what is not. Changing the High-Risk Narrative Education, awareness, and accountability should always play a role in fostering student safety. It is easier to correct unwanted behavior when the expected and desired behaviors are fully understood and when unwanted behaviors are discouraged with active and consequential repercussions. Grassroots programs that educate and encourage desired outcomes should remain an integral part of any Danger Zone student safety program.  The ultimate goal is an environment where stop arm violations are not the norm. Until we reach this goal, intelligent technology and new ways of thinking can reduce risk to students in the Danger Zone almost as soon as these systems are implemented. Long term, the most effective way to reduce the risk to students from stop arm violations, and address distracted driving and the lack of awareness and/or a disregard for the rules, is an approach that encompasses all of these methods.   Safe Fleet has a vision to reduce preventable deaths and injuries in and around fleet vehicles, with a goal of ZERO accidents. To this end, Safe Fleet has developed the Predictive Stop Arm™ a patented solution that uses radar technology and predictive analytics to monitor oncoming vehicle traffic, measuring vehicle speed and distance from a school bus. Analytics algorithms process data from radar sensors and determine whether a vehicle has sufficient time to slow down and stop or whether a stop arm violation is probable. If the system perceives that a student should not cross, the student will hear “Danger, Get Back,” emitted from speakers mounted outside the bus and the bus operator will receive a visual alert inside the bus. 1https://nasdpts24.wildapricot.org/resources/Documents/2019%20NASDPTS%20Illegal%20Passing%20Results%20Summary-7-24-19-v2-Updated%201-3-20%20to%20Include%20DC.pdf Deirdre O’Brien is senior content specialist for Safe Fleet. Contact Safe Fleet to learn more at www.safefleet.net.

Special Needs
  • A Look at Post-COVID Special Needs Transportation By:

    School BUSRide spoke with Kevin Trudeau, director of commercial sales for BraunAbility, to discuss accessible student transportation in the wake of COVID-19. BraunAbility provides mobility products to numerous transportation industries. Trudeau discussed disruptions due to the pandemic, new safety concerns, the role technology plays in the “new normal,” and more. From an equipment standpoint, what new safety concerns have arisen in special needs pupil transportation due to COVID-19? Most of the students who use our products are a higher-risk population, and we do not take lightly their decision to trust their health to our services. Since COVID, we have implemented processes to increase peace of mind for those with mobility challenges, including an anti-microbial powder coating on the handrails of our wheelchair lifts and implementing a sanitation process as the last component of any service inspection. We also encourage and incentivize mobile service units, enabling the service technicians to come to the repair unit and limit exposure. What role does technology or equipment play in reimagining accessible transportation after COVID-19? Like every industry, pupil transportation is witnessing a high turnover of employees, specifically of equipment operators. This turnover forced us to accelerate our virtual education and certification efforts. In the past we would schedule onsite, in-person trainings. Today a brand-new operator can scan a QR code on our wheelchair lift and read instructions or watch instructional videos to ensure they are operating the equipment correctly or troubleshoot any issues. We still believe in the value of in-person trainings, but we recognize the need for more versatile and virtual options in today’s era, whether during COVID times or beyond. This and our sanitizing processes are changes that are here to stay. What best practices do you recommend for districts in a post-COVID transportation environment? Our best advice to special needs transportation providers right now is to stay current on safety operations, commit to a thorough pre-trip inspection cycle, and make use of OEM and vendor resources for operators. With the quick scan of the QR code on products, our new virtual training and troubleshooting content is now so easy to access. Other equipment providers can provide similar services for their own products. In a post-COVID school transportation environment, our loading and unloading training procedures have not changed. We still focus on safety of the customer above all and meeting them at their comfort level. What vehicle- or equipment-based steps can districts take – whether in practice or with technology – to prep their operations for future crises? This timeless advice still applies in a post-COVID transportation environment – be sure you are conducting pre-trip inspections and conducting preventative maintenance on all your equipment. Many vehicles have been sitting through COVID due to less operating requirements. If your fleet has been idle for more time than is normal, it is especially important that you are regularly running the equipment, taking it for test drives, and ensuring it is ready and able to operate despite any down time.  This is a critical time for the future of the pupil transportation industry. For our part, BraunAbility is excited about our collaboration with Q’STRAINT and the potential to not only make wheelchair securement easier and faster, but also touchless and therefore safer as well. This partnership could not have come at a better time.

Technology
  • LiDAS Ensures No Child is Left Behind By:

    After a long day (and despite the school bus industry’s exceptional safety record), children are sometimes left behind on the school bus. Best practices, surveillance systems, and training help a lot — but is there more you can do to ensure every kid is off the bus each night? No school bus driver intends to leave a child on their vehicle at the end of a long day. But despite the best training, efforts, and intention from dedicated professionals nationwide, this unfortunate situation still happens too often. Training, surveillance systems, and best practices all go a long way – but are you doing everything you can to ensure each kid is off the bus each night? That question is what lead IEE Sensing and Dr. Joseph Funyak, senior vice president of transformative products and technologies, to develop LiDAS, or Life Detection Assistance System. LiDAS is described as a turnkey child detection system which automatically recognizes children (or any living being) accidentally left behind on school vehicles.   Origins in Automotive Safety The technology behind LiDAS began in the automotive world with VitaSense, a radar sensor developed by IEE Sensing in 2009 to detect infants and children left behind in hot cars.  “We created an onboard sensor with the capability to detect even the faintest breathing from a six-month-old infant, even with a blanket covering their head,” Funyak said. “That sensor is being rolled out to passenger cars, but it presented an interesting question – what about school buses, where the number of children is multiplied many times?” In 2017, IEE Sensing began developing LiDAS for school buses. Funyak observed that school buses were very safe thanks to surveillance technology and driver checks, but the industry lacked an automated solution to protect against the event of a child being left behind on a bus. “I thought it was important for school districts to have a standalone, automatic system to check for children,” he said. “There is no way for the driver to circumvent the system, and it provides an independent check against human error.” Funyak noted that even experienced drivers can sometimes miss a child due to habitual memory triumphing over prospective memory.  “When a school bus driver searches their bus after each run, day after day, in search of children left behind, they form habitual memory — that no children are found on the bus,” Funyak said, citing a 2019 study by Dr. David Diamond at the University of South Florida. “Now add a change of some sort or a distraction and the prospective memory – like searching the bus for children left behind – can fail.”   LiDAS When installing the system on a school bus, IEE Sensing first places radar sensors around the vehicle equipped with a patented pattern recognition software. IEE partnered with Brandmotion to be the primary installer of LiDAS as it ramps up into higher production volumes. Brandmotion, experts on installing state-of-the-art technology in the transportation market, have helped with ideas and improvements regarding the installation of LiDAS into school buses. “It is critical for us to provide support when LiDAS goes to a new school district,” said Jeff Varick, CEO and founder of Brandmotion. “Districts are busy enough and do not have the necessary expertise to install the system, monitor, and support it. We have 175 technicians across the country who can help – while also making the installation process better, faster, and more affordable for school districts.” IEE and Brandmotion also equip the bus with a central control unit (CCU) with a wireless communication modem, and a driver interface at the front of the bus. This interface provides the driver with system status, and the system’s notifications are customizable – including alarms, horn activation, flashing lights, and text messages. The control unit connects directly to the cloud, providing districts with real-time system communication and data storage savings. That control unit for LiDAS was developed and manufactured by BGM Engineering. BGM assisted in optimizing the design of the CCU and will also produce and assemble the complete Integrated Driver Interface with CCU. “IEE had a prototype of the controller, which we optimized into a robust, vehicle-ready control board for LiDAS,” said Joe Mazur, VP of engineering for BGM Engineering. “School buses run for long periods, and sometimes in extreme temperatures and over a lot of vibration. This unit is rugged-ready for the many miles placed on school buses.” Funyak said LiDAS allows for customizable settings like detection escalation cyclic, or pre- and post-route checks – all depending on a district’s unique needs. When a driver turns on the vehicle’s ignition, LiDAS goes into standby mode. When the ignition is switched off, the LiDAS activates after a preset delay time (for post-route driver tasks). In about one minute, the system scans the entire bus and sends out a predetermined notification to the appropriate district contact. “The system will detect a child even if they are sleeping under a seat bench in the dark,” Funyak said. “It is not reliant on lighting. It sees through seats and is not affected by mechanical disturbances.” All results are sent to a cloud-based storage for retrieval and review on a real-time basis. St. Clair Technologies (SCT) assisted IEE Sensing in designing and optimizing the various wire harness and cable configurations for LiDAS. SCT’s market focuses include bus, automotive, military, RV, truck, H-D equipment, marine, power sports, alternative energy and more.  “When IEE came to us, there was a basic idea of how the system should function,” said Sharon Azuara, SCT account manager. “We worked with IEE to develop the connection systems, how it could be fed through the buses, and worked to develop the wiring to run the system. “Even in today’s world, children are still unfortunately left behind from time to time,” said Barry Grobosky, vice president of engineering for SCT. “Many of the preventive systems in place are based on people completing a process, whereas this sensor array provides an automatic check.” “The entire industry is Read More >