New Transportation Safety Technology

October 23, 2007 - Posted at 5 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO - In an emergency...sometimes minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

Several recent accidents involving school and church transportation vehicles has underscored the need for rapid information to be relayed to emergency service personnel. New technology could make transporting your kids safer.

Many school buses and special needs vehicles drive hundreds of miles each day out of the city areas onto Region 8 back roads.

Bobby Willis the Director of Transportation at the Pediatric Cay Care gave us this example."We have some vans that drive as much as fifty miles one way just to pick up children and bring them back to the clinic, they do this twice a day."

But what happens in case of an emergency such as a recent accident between a car and a school bus near Valley View when a car ran into the side of a bus as it was coming over a hill.

"We have GPS satellites, GPS chip sets in phones, we have that ability to get that information out."

That information Sean Stenson from Sprint is talking about is a system being used by schools and other businesses to track school buses and provide instant data back to supervisors in case something goes wrong.

Stenson, " So when we have something that it's not supposed to be doing, I need to know that and I need to know that as quickly as possible. The idea is to give that information to the decision makers in a real time format."

Tuesday morning this technology was presented to organizations and school officials, one of the organizations present was the Pediatric Day Clinic from Jonesboro, a group that has vans that are used to transport special needs children back and forth to health care clinics all over Arkansas, many located in rural areas. The Sprint system could provide a vital link to their vans.

Willis, "Instant communication with them, whether they are in some rural area or here in town we can access them, some of our clinics are in real rural areas. "

One of the big advantages of the GPS system is that it would replace several pieces of loose equipment that are already in vans such as this that are in use by the Pediatric Day Clinic.

Shelly Tucker, Clinic Director, "We currently have a cell phone that we keep on all of our vans, and then we also have a weather radio in the van so that we can anticipate any weather that may be coming."

Sprints technology could save minutes in an emergency and with so many children mobile for parts of the day there is nothing more important than their continued safety on the road. This technology is already being used in North Little Rock schools and Pulaski county schools here in Arkansas.