Managing school bus fleets is not an easy task. For one thing, the safety and security of the children are in the hands of the drivers and fleet managers. Second, the school carries the responsibility of updating parents about delays and emergencies. It has always been difficult for school staff to gain the trust of parents when it comes to this, but with the development of new technology, school bus management has been made a lot easier and transparent, thanks to GPS technology. Read on to learn just how school bus fleets benefit from GPS tracking.
Ways School Bus Fleets Benefit from GPS Tracking Systems
Fleet monitoring plays a big role in the safety of children in school buses as tracking systems log and send updates of the locations that bus drivers go to throughout each trip. Tracking systems also send alerts when harmful employee driving behaviors that could endanger the young passengers are detected. Bad driving habits include the following:
- Driving over the set speed limit
- Hard braking
- Reckless and aggressive driving
- Unauthorized changing of bus route
Different school bus–related incidents highlight the importance of GPS tracking. One of the alarming ones happened in Utah, where a school bus driver was arrested on DUI charges, endangering the lives of the 67 children and adults on board due to erratic driving.
Once school buses are equipped with a GPS tracking devices, both the school and the kids’ parents can then monitor the real-time location of the buses, as well as the children. Parents and schools will receive important details about the trips—from every route taken to every stop made. This tracking information is transmitted through SMS or email alerts. It can also be viewed online or through the accompanying GPS mobile app. If there are delays, whether they’re caused by traffic jams or road incidents, the bus manager can immediately inform the parents of the reason for the delay through notifications.
So how exactly does GPS benefit school bus fleets?
Ensures student safety on the road
The minute children climb on board the school bus, their lives are placed in the hands of the driver and the routing dispatcher. Parents become understandably worried about their child's safety at this point. But GPS fleet trackers give them a blanket of security because they can now check on the child throughout the ride.
Various studies show that when field employees are aware that their performance is being tracked, including their driving behaviors, they become most compliant to rules and willing to improve on their work ethic. Also, since modern GPS trackers like Tracki work in real time, parents are constantly notified of the school bus’s current location, as well as its specific arrival time.
Protects children from going missing
The number of missing children have been on the rise lately. Some unfortunate cases even remain unsolved despite search efforts.
Schools should take responsibility when it comes to ensuring the safety and security of their students. This should start from the time the children leave their homes to the time they head to school until they get home. Having a tracking system set in place would be essential to check if a child had taken the right bus home and to see if they were safely dropped in their respective location. Installing GPS tracking devices as a way to improve school bus systems is a cost-effective and beneficial solution to any school’s issue on child safety.
Helps with school bus maintenance
Maintaining school bus fleets can put a dent in the administration's yearly budget. Determining the problem before it gets worse will not only save buses from costly breakdowns; it will also minimize downtime by allowing fleet managers to schedule maintenance ahead of time. This way, the broken buses get the maintenance they need and fleet managers can schedule replacement buses when necessary.
Enhance vehicle route planning
There have been numerous cases of students being late to school because the bus had failed to pick them up on time. This can be due to several factors such as shortage of employees, heavy traffic, or an inefficient bus system. The use of a GPS vehicle locator gives fleet managers better route options for drivers. This will reduce the time each driver has to spend on the road, resulting in faster arrival and lesser fuel expenses. This also reduces the chances that buses meet untoward road incidents on the way to school.
Removes parental anxiety
As mentioned above, sending children out on their own can be an anxious experience for parents. GPS tracking gives them peace of mind by sending real-time alerts of the bus's whereabouts, including its arrival and departure. In the event of a late arrival or departure, parents can always call the dispatcher to clear things up.
Monitors driver behavior
There's nothing worse than having to entrust a fleet in the hands of irresponsible drivers, let alone a fleet filled with kids as passengers! With a GPS tracker, bus fleet managers can generate reports on unwanted behaviors, like sudden brakes, idle times, and over speeding. They may also give compensation for drivers exhibiting good behavior while on the road.
Helps schools save on fuel costs
Another way bus fleets benefit from GPS tracking is in terms of fuel expenses. Now that bus dispatchers can plan on more cost-effective routes for their fleet, they can avoid road construction sites as well as traffic- and accident-prone areas. Other than that, they can ensure that drivers observe the right speed limits and stay on their scheduled routes.
Reduces carbon footprint
With more efficient routes and lesser idle times, schools can now do their part in saving the environment. It provides schools with important information that can help in taking environment-friendly, cost-cutting strategies for school bus fleets.
Keeps important records and schedules efficiently
One of the key benefits of GPS tracking is the data that the tracking system collects. With data like driver behavior, mileage, and other key factors recorded by the system, managers no longer have to rely on manual logbooks. On the other hand, scheduling is also made easier with a tracking system. Bus dispatchers can now create better and more effective schedules for their students, allowing better time management and more effective operations.
GPS Trackers for School Buses in Suffolk, Virginia
Public schools in Virginia clamored to address the issue of late buses by incorporating GPS for school buses in Suffolk.
Because tracking systems allow fleet managers to seek out more effective routes to ensure that their buses arrive at their destination on time, the Suffolk school division had set aside a $200,000 budget to cover the costs for GPS technology for school bus monitoring.
However, not everyone is on board with the idea. Mike Debranski, a school board chairman, is against the idea of installing a tracking system. And Debranski is not alone. Only 69 percent agreed to a school bus tracking system based on a survey responded by more than 3,100 parents.
Despite the cold response, GPS has proven to be the right solution in addressing the city’s issue with school buses. Suffolk is the largest city in Virginia with an area of 430 square miles. To top it off, its terrain and landscape are a challenge for vehicles as they are difficult to navigate. The recommendation to invest in GPS for school buses in Suffolk came after a consulting firm surveyed the area back in 2015.
Tracking systems allow dispatchers to map out a convenient route for school bus fleets. The school buses, which total to 723, are directed toward more smooth-flowing traffic instead. This is also essential for drivers when it comes to bringing students home as it lets them navigate around unfamiliar neighborhoods with ease.
Neighboring cities Norfolk and Portsmouth have not incorporated GPS technology into their school bus system yet. But in the United States, the number of school divisions that have made use of GPS are on the rise. According to Mike Martin, executive director of the National Association of Pupil Transportation, GPS “enables the districts to know very, very quickly where their buses are.”
School officials are optimistic that this will help address the bus issues parents have been raising for a long time, and they are hoping to improve the system as each year comes. In turn, GPS for school buses in Suffolk will also give way to numerous savings for the schools’ budget. Schools certainly benefit from reduced fuel, maintenance, and insurance costs once GPS technology is installed.
The use of GPS technology in school bus monitoring is not a new method; in fact, several schools are already using it to keep an eye on driving behaviors of their bus drivers. According to WNCN.com, some schools in North Carolina have taken extra precaution by assigning supervisors to buses to make sure that drivers don’t go over 45 mph.
Another school in Lafayette, Louisiana, attested to the benefits of adopting a school bus monitoring system. The school official reported that the tracking system allows him to oversee the school’s remote employees from his desk. He only has to check on his computer to know the bus’s current whereabouts, the locations of every stop the bus made, and information on whether it is running at the prescribed speed.
Everything from emergency situations to bus breakdowns will immediately be addressed if schools start seeking the help of GPS tracking. Are you interested in investing in a cost-effective tracking system? Tracki is a reliable GPS tracking system equipped with the best features that can help schools address important safety issues.