TCAPS Tests New Driver Alert System on School Buses

Bus drivers say many people often find themselves confused about what to do around school buses.

One Northern Michigan district is testing a system that aims to make this answer more clear.

“It certainly brings attention to everybody and it spells it out. I mean there’s no guessing anymore of ‘Gee, should I stop?’ It says stop,” said Traverse City Area Public Schools Bus Driver Dennis Conway.

Traverse City Area Public Schools is one of 10 districts in Michigan trying out a new driver alert system.

It spells out what drivers should do and when.

“Representative (Holly) Hughes is sponsoring a bill and this is a test pilot for 40 of them. So they offered these to us. They’re 450 dollars apiece, but they gave them to us for free,” TCAPS Transportation Director Tyson Burch said.

The testing phase started three weeks ago.

Now, they’re using these final two weeks to collect data and decide whether they’d recommend the system.

“We put them on special routes where we have issues with flashers flasher passers. And we think it’s going to be a very good test for them. Now we’re using these last two weeks to see if it helped.”

Conway’s route takes him to a four-lane highway.

“A lot of times when I’m dropping kids off on a four lane highway even though they don’t cross, I do have cars that cross me. I don’t think they really realize being a four lane highway they can’t do that,” Conway said.

To him, the system’s added clarity can only help.

“Especially in the early mornings hours or late evening hours, we’re running. Something like this is fantastic. I mean, there’s no way of missing it.”

TCAPS will keep the lights on after the trial period.

Representative Holly Hughes hopes to pass legislation that requires the system on school buses throughout the state.