Crashes involving school buses and crashes involving children travelling to and from school, are far from negligible and require further efforts to be drastically reduced.
The objective of the SAFEWAY2SCHOOL project was to design, develop, integrate and evaluate technologies for providing a holistic and safe transportation service for children, from their home to school and vice versa, encompassing tools, services and training for all key actors in the relevant transportation chain. These include optimal route planning and re-routing for school buses to maximise safety, on-board safety applications (i.e. seat belts), intelligent bus stops, effective warning and information systems for bus drivers, children, parents and the surrounding traffic, as well as training schemes for all actors.
The project innovative systems, services and training schemes were tested at four sites Europewide, including North (Sweden), Central (Austria), South (Italy) and Eastern (Poland) Europe. To evaluate their usability, efficiency, user acceptance and market viability, taking into account the very different children's transportation to and from school systems across the different European regions as well as key cultural and socio-economic aspects.
Pilot tests were carried out to evaluate the impact of the developed systems in a realistic environment. They also provided an environment for demonstration. SAFEWAY2SCHOOL project included five pilot sites scattered all over Europe to implement and test the various subsystems. Each pilot site had a special focus and all of them included different user groups to participate and use the system.
The following five pilots were established:
- Austrian Pilot
- German Pilot
- Italian Pilot
- Polish Pilot
- Swedish Pilot
The following SAFEWAY2SCHOOL subsystems have been installed at the pilot sites. They have either been developed within the project or discovered somewhere in Europe to be integrated into the holistic approach. Together they provide a toolkit to enhance the safety and comfort of children using school busses for their daily commuting.
Intelligent bus stops
This kind of bus stop is equipped with a light indicator placed in the upper part of the sign that illuminates itself when children are approaching. The goal was to signal the presence of children to passing drivers so that they reduce vehicle speed, such a device has appeared to be very useful especially in case of fog, rain or poor visibility.
Tag for children using the intelligent bus stops
The tag communicates wirelessly with the intelligent bus stop and it indicates the presence of the child to passing drivers. The tag was distributed to children and it could be easily pinned to their school bags. In the Swedish pilot site the tag also communicated with a Driver Support System placed on the bus and exchanged information about the unit's reference ID.
A New bus sign and bus stop sign
The sign indicating the presence of children was placed on the school buses and at intelligent bus stops. The signs were elaborated in the project to function as signals, which are clearly visible and recognisable over long viewing distances respectively high speeds, in order to effectively (early) warn drivers.
Driver Support Systems
The system was placed on the school buses used at the test site. The systems are aimed at making the drivers task easier during the school transport by providing useful information about children on board, bus stops, timetables, planned route, fuel consumption, speed limit. Two kinds of driver support systems were tested during the project.
AN efficient and integrated mobility system: Acting on transport safety (saving thousands of lives)