Sensors Being Tested to Improve School Bus Safety

Posted at: 03/21/2013 7:12 PM
By: James Wilcox

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- There's a new way schools are looking to keep kids safe as they get on and off school buses. The technology comes following one family's personal tragedy.

In October of 2011, 11-year-old Justin Bradfield died near Waterloo, IA when he was hit by his own school bus. Now his school district is working to make sure something like that never happens again.

School bus drivers within the Janesville Consolidated School District in Iowa are getting used to the new technology. Within the last few weeks crews installed child detection sensor systems on two buses.

Sensors are located all around the bus including by the wheel, and if a child is anywhere within four feet of the bus an alarm goes off inside. There is an LED screen that shows zones around the bus.

Ryan Bradfield knows everything there is to know about the sensors. For him this project is personal. His little boy and his smile faded away after a school bus hit him in 2011.

Bradfield says, "When he was walking in front of the bus he dropped something and when he bent over he picked it up and the bust started in motion."

Bradfield is part of the Smile Big Foundation organized in honor of Justin. The foundation raised thousands of dollars to pay for the sensor systems.

"The funds that they've raised already are quite a bit and it's just a proud moment for our town of Janesville. Just to prevent this from happening to anyone else. Losing a child in this way is just terrible but to prevent this from happening again. We're doing not only something about this, but we're raising awareness too. Justin would be thrilled, yea, this is something that would be really neat for him," Bradfield says.

The sensors are part of a pilot project by the Iowa Department of Education. Mason City and another district in Iowa are also testing them.