|Kathleen Wynne Announces New Photo Radar Legislation For Ontario
Article By: CBC News (Ottawa)
Article Date: November 8, 2016
Municipalities in Ontario could soon deploy photo radar in school zones if new legislation announced by Premier Kathleen Wynne in Ottawa is adopted.
The proposed law would allow municipalities to use automated speed technology to take photos of speeders' licence plates in school zones, and in areas around places like daycares, parks, seniors' homes and hospitals.
"Kids will be safer because of these decisions," Wynne told a crowd at Elmdale Public School.
Photo radar has been a controversial issue in Ottawa. Mayor Jim Watson initially opposed photo radar arguing it was a "cash grab" for the city, but later changed his stance if the technology was only used in school zones and only if the ward councillor wants it.
"This gives us a tool to deal with a serious problem," he said. The announcement got a round of applause from Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau. He said the technology will deter speeders and allow him to deploy his officers to more pressing crime scenes. "This is about saving lives ... this is about changing driver behaviour," the chief said.
Wynne said any revenue generated from photo radar would stay with the municipalities. Previously, Watson told reporters any money generated by a photo radar pilot project would go into road safety programs and not into general city coffers.
If passed, the law would also allow municipalities to lower default speed limits from 50 km/h to 40 or 30. The law would give municipalities the power and choice to lower limits in individual neighbourhoods, or wider areas.
Watson said he'd like to see the speed limit come down to 40 km/h on Ottawa's residential streets, but will undertake consultations to see what each ward wants.
The proposed legislation would also streamline the province's red-light camera program so cities and towns could bypass the lengthy regulatory approval process.
The city of Toronto had also asked the province to consider letting municipalities use technology — including photo radar — instead of police officers for traffic management, as Mayor John Tory looked for ways to cut the city's $1-billion police budget.
Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger sent a request in January to Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca that he reintroduce photo radar "as a tool for municipalities to use to improve road safety."
Photo radar became a political football in Ontario in the 1990s after it was introduced by the NDP government, but it was killed by premier Mike Harris after the Progressive Conservatives won the 1995 election, in part on a pledge to get rid of the cameras.
|NTSB: Lap/Shoulder Seat Belts Complete School Bus Safety
Article By: School Transportation News (Kansas City, MO)
Article Date: November 7, 2016
National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Christopher Hart spoke on the value of constantly perfecting safety measures during a NAPT Summit general session.
Hart assured the audience that despite the critical stance the NTSB often takes after crashes, the agency doesn’t dispute the fact that school buses remain the best method to transport students. The role of the NTSB, the chairman explained, is to uncover the errors that led to the mishap in order to prevent future incidents and avert potential injuries.
“There is no question that the school bus is the safest means of transporting children to and from school,” he added. “But there is always room for improvement.”
Using a number of bus crashes from the last few years that involved student fatalities, Hart explained that most of these incidents were caused by driver fatigue and distraction, both of which are on the NTSB Most Wanted List.
The chairman noted that it is the other drivers on the road that need to be the most aware of these issues. The prohibition of all cell phones would benefit all people when they are behind the wheel, while getting proper rest before getting on the road would further save lives.
Hart mentioned the problem of school bus drivers lying about medical problems since it prevents doctors from helping fix any health concerns. He referenced a recent incident where a driver had omitted a blood pressure condition from his required medical examination. He passed out while behind the wheel of his school bus, which crashed, injuring the students aboard, some severely.
Yet, Hart pointed out that school bus compartmentalization is the reason most students walk away from crashes like the one mentioned above, especially since these particular children were wearing lap/shoulder seat belts.
Not all deaths aboard the school bus are avoidable, but Hart said that the addition of lap/shoulder seat belts, as the NTSB recommends, could save more lives. He added that when the agency makes recommendations, it’s taking a “holistic approach to maximize protection of occupants.”
These recommendations only come after the NTSB conducts a thorough investigation of accidents that takes into account the “totality of circumstances,” he added.
Hart showed a video that compared compartmentalization to an egg crate. The addition of lap/shoulder belts is essentially like closing the crate, the safety restraints providing the most protection possible.
While compartmentalization protects students from lateral impacts, during side-impact crashes lap/shoulder seat belts shield occupants from the risks posed by flailing limbs and “non-protected hard surfaces.”
The NTSB is an independent investigative body that is determined to enhance confidence in industries with high public interest, specifically of anything that moves.
|Small, Driverless Bus With On-Demand Pickup
Article By: The Globe and Mail
Article Date: October 30, 2016
Renderings courtesy of Charles Bombardier.
The Toboxi is a smart transit bus designed to travel in narrow streets. This ecological and neighbourhood-friendly urban bus can accommodate up to 12 passengers. It can also recharge itself on the move with inductive chargers located along its routes.
In May 2013, Charles Bombardier worked with Jan Bujnak on the Otobuxi smart urban bus concept. It was the first attempt at a compact bus designed to travel quietly and efficiently on narrow residential streets.
In 2014, Xavier Gordillo and Charles Bombardier worked together on another ideation called the Gemini. This twin deck panoramic bus concept also won an award from Local Motors during the Urban Mobility Challenge: Berlin 2030. The Toboxi is a natural evolution of those two concepts with a few additional features.
The 4WD and four-wheel steering Toboxi would draw its power from automatic inductive power transfer switches embedded below the street. It would be able to ride on any city street by using stored energy in its battery packs, and it would make its route on the fly based on demand. With its electric motors, it would be silent enough to ride on residential streets.
The Toboxi’s rooftop would be equipped with two transparent glass windows which would slide open and let fresh air in on pleasant days. The bus would also feature pedestrian airbags like the ones proposed on the Gemini as a safety measure.
With its four-wheel steering and electric motors, the Toboxi could travel easily and quietly on any urban street. It would be able to transport 12 passengers, including 2 wheelchairs. The Toboxi would offer standard seats, but also angled wall seats so passengers could lean or half-sit on them during the trip. This would provide an interesting alternative to the older crowd who can still walk and stand while travelling (but who wouldn’t mind having something to lean on).
To get on board, each passenger would first register by filling out a form and submitting their picture. They would then be able to request a pick-up by using a smartphone or simply by waving at a passing Toboxi. The flexible fare would be charged on your account because the Toboxi would be able to recognize each of its passengers faces for added security.
Once on board, you could tell the driverless bus where you are heading, and the onboard AI would automatically calculate the best itineraries by including other modes of transportation if necessary. It would thus use a combination of vehicles connected to the transit network (Toboxi, Subway, Tramway, Buses, Shared Bicycles, Commuter Trains, Taxis, etc.)
Most residential streets are not serviced by city buses, which are either too heavy, too bulky or too noisy . There are also fewer users to fill up a complete city bus, so the Toboxi series could bridge the gap with its small to medium capacity.
|OTC School Zone Safety Workshop
Article By: Ontario Traffic Council (OTC)
Edited By: Ontario School Bus Association (OSBA)
Article Date: November 2, 2016
The Ontario Traffic Council (OTC) will be holding a School Zone Safety Workshop on November 15th, 2016 in Burlington, ON. OTC is pleased to join the Road Safety Committee of Ontario in presenting this workshop where people will hear from industry experts and discuss shared experiences, ongoing issues and potential solutions.
School zone safety is a major concern for municipalities today. Speeding vehicles, distracted children forgetting to watch for cars, parents competing to pick up and drop off their children as close to the school as possible, parked and stopped vehicles obstructing traffic, school driveways, fire routes and school buses all of which increase the risk of pedestrian collisions. With these concerns in mind, promoting safe routes to school and active transportation along with education and enforcement can assist in improving the safety and health of all road users.
Please visit http://www.otc.org/events for further details and online registration. Or contact OTC with any questions you may have about this workshop, Scott Godwin, firstname.lastname@example.org, 647-346-4050.
|Northway Bus Reflects On School Bus Driver Appreciation Day 2016
Northway Bus was very pleased to recognize driver Shirley Coulter during School Bus Driver Appreciation Day on Oct. 19, 2016.
Shirley, who began with Northway Bus on Sept. 9, 2015, has not missed a day of work since she started with the company. Northway Bus comments that Shirley has the absolute cleanest bus in the fleet - she even takes the time to Armour All her tires and bumpers!
Coulter has the longest route in the fleet and drives from Massey to Sudbury and back daily. She won the favourite bus driver in Sudbury award as voted by the public, which was especially amazing as the comments came from high school students, not parents.
Coulter is pictured here with Renee Boucher and Claude Sonier of the Sudbury Student Services Consortium.
|NHTSA Extends Public Comment On Speed Limiter Proposal
Article By: School Transportation News (U.S.)
Article Date: November 1, 2016
The U.S. Department of Transportation has granted a 30-day extension for public commentary on the latest rule on speed-limiting devices.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has proposed a requirement that all newly manufactured trucks, buses and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds be equipped with speed-limiting devices.
As reported in August, NHTSA has not specified the exact limits, but the agency said it is weighing the benefits and disadvantages of setting speeds at 60, 65 or 68 mph.
According to NHTSA, the rule could save between 27 and 498 lives a year, depending on the speed limit set, adding that requiring speed limiters on heavy vehicles could also save an estimated $1 billion in fuel costs each year.
Nearly 58% of 250 School Transportation News readers who responded to an August survey said their school buses use this device. While almost half believed that speed limiters should be required for school buses as an added safety measure, 46% thought otherwise.
Among the remaining respondents, it was felt that the speed limiters should be used on a district-by-district basis and only when school bus drivers have been seen speeding or convicted of the offense.
The new public comment deadline runs to Dec. 7. NHTSA said this extension should provide all interested parties sufficient opportunity to fully develop and submit comments and evidentiary materials on the subject.
|School Bus Seat Belt Study Begins in Iowa District
Article By: School Transportation News (Des Moines, IA)
Article Date: October 28, 2016
Three-point, lap-shoulder seat belts will be provided to some Des Moines Public Schools bus riders as the district begins testing the occupant restraints.
A Thomas Built Buses Saf-T-Liner C2 school buses equipped with three-point belts from SynTec Seating Solutions began rolling Halloween 2016 morning for students attending 12 different campuses. The district said a second similarly equipped bus is expected to arrive in December.
The state of Iowa already allows local school districts to specify lap-shoulder belts on buses. But, to date, no districts aside from Des Moines has had the safety restraints installed.
DMPS said in a statement that school buses remain the safest mode of transportation to and from school, as crashes are rare. But Todd Liston, the district’s transportation director, said the apparent viability of lap-shoulder belts as additional safety equipment, warrant a trial.
“We have several questions,” Liston added. “Among them, will the students use the seat belts or are they a distraction? Can the students secure themselves, or would they need assistance getting in and out of their seats, possibly causing a hazard if quick evacuation of the bus became necessary? All of these things need to be studied.”
SynTec is overseeing the study and converted both buses to be equipped with three-point belts. Shane Wright, SynTec's dealer account manager, said that Des Moines Public Schools was already in the process of ordering new C2 school buses when the idea for the study was hatched.
Wright added that the district agreed to purchase the two new C2s with the S3C convertible seat equipped in all student rider positions and in both buses. SynTec agreed to convert the plain-back seats to seats with the three-point seat belts and cover the cost.
Wright also told STN that the buses will be rotated and used for many different routes for the remainder of the school year, serving elementary, middle and high school students.
"This is going to be a big deal," he added. "Todd Liston is going about this in an intelligent, professional way."
|NASDPTS: Researcher Calls For Improved School Bus Lettering
Article By: School Transportation News (U.S.)
Article Date: November 6, 2016
Few people, if any, deliberately run a red light or stop sign at an intersection. So why do illegal school bus passing incidents continue to be such a problem?
Cognitive expert Shmuel Bolen pointed out to NASDPTS members and conference attendees what the industry already knows so well, namely that tens of millions of illegal passes occur nationwide each year. So it’s a miracle there are only about 10 fatalities annually.
But how might information design on school buses, specifically lettering on the rear of the vehicles, help change this behaviour? Bolen returned to the NASDPTS Conference to again ask a question he first posed several years ago to members, and before that, at the STN EXPO. The information he provided is derived from informal studies he has performed in his home state of Massachusetts after noticing the potential confusion on his daughter’s school bus.
Several NASDPTS members commented that many motorists simply are distracted and it will forever be a challenge to effect such behaviour. Bolen indicated that the problem may have more to do with how the human eye processes information.
“We all have thousands of mental models for accomplishing certain tasks,” said Bolen, a user experience research designer for ACI Worldwide and blogger. “These are internal representations of how to complete a task quickly and accurately. They allow people all over the world who don’t know each other to interact with each other every day.”
For example, Bolen talked about how a Dutch bicycle manufacturer reduced damaged shipments by 70 percent by placing the picture of a flat screen TV on the side of packaging. The result was more care shown during deliveries.
Bolen said the same principle applies to motorists navigating traffic. They read the message they see, such as the words “School Bus” and “Do Not Pass When Red Lights Flash,” they attempt to process what the message means, and then they take a specific action (or inaction) as a result of the information.
“You need to get the first one right to understand what to do and therefore to make sure the action is correct,” he said.
Complicating this, he added, are the various messages displayed on the rear school buses that can range from state to state. He said many phrases are printed in all caps, which is an uncommon format in most people’s everyday lives. And to fit long phrases on the bus, for example the rear emergency door, the fonts are often stretched, which Bolen said makes the eyes work harder.
Multiple messages, such as “Bus Stops at all Railroad Crossings,” “Emergency door” and “Stay Back 100 feet,” complicate the ability of motorists to decipher what they should or should not do.
“The hypothesis is, then, that drivers have already made up their mind to go and his attention is already down the road,” he said. “Thus, they won’t even see the stop arm deploy or the flashing lights.”
While more studies are necessary, Bolen has advocated for a rethinking of font sizes and faces used, limiting the messaging to the most vital direction for motorists and placing those words in a more linear way that is easier to read.
|Singapore Builds On Autonomous Vehicle Progress With Driverless Bus Pilot Program
Article By: Yahoo News (Singapore)
Article Date: November 2, 2016
Singapore already is home to a fleet of self-driving cars that can be hailed with a smartphone. Soon, residents and visitors to the city may be able to choose a driverless bus as one of their available transportation options for moving around the Asian city. And we are not talking small buses here; Singapore is going big and rolling out two 40-foot-long driverless buses that are controlled robotically.
The driverless bus trial is the result of a partnership between Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and CleanTech Park, an eco-business park that encourages the development of clean technology. The pair has already worked together on driverless cars, developing and operating a self-driving shuttle between the university’s campus and the CleanTech business park. The shuttle has been in operation since 2013.
NTU will use its knowledge and experience from the shuttle trial as it develops its driverless bus system. The researchers plan to equip two electric hybrid buses with the sensors and software system to pilot the bus through the crowded city streets. “So, this autonomous bus trial is the first of its kind in Singapore that will aim to improve road safety, reduce vehicle congestion, alleviate pollution and address manpower challenges,” said NTU Chief of Staff and Vice-President of Research Lam Khin Yong to Channel News Asia.
Similar to the shuttle, the buses initially will transport passengers between NTU and CleanTech Park with plans to extend the transportation network to include the outlying Pioneer MRT Station in the future. Unlike the smaller shuttles which provide taxi-level service, the larger single deck buses are capable of carrying up to 80 passengers, providing city dwellers with a mass transit option.
The pilot program will be administered by Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA) along with NTU. Results of the pilot will be analyzed by the LTA along with Google, which is known for its work on driverless car technology. Using feedback from the trial, the LTE hopes to extend the driverless bus system beyond its initial college campus route and bring it to additional transit stations in the city.