Kanawha County Schools unveil new technology that aims to cut down on illegal school bus passes

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- For years, transportation officials with the Kanawha County School system have made it their mission to cut down on drivers illegally passing school buses.

Kanawha County Schools unveiled new technology Wednesday being added to three school buses to try and cut down on illegal passes.

They have added new technology to the bus fleet over the years to cut down on those incidents, including extended stop arms.

On Wednesday, they unveiled a new alert system that will be installed on three buses in the county. It is called the 'Predictive Stop Arm.'

Sensors can predict if someone is going to illegally pass a school bus by detecting the acceleration and deceleration of a car. If it detects a driver about to pass, an alarm goes off to let kids know not to cross the road.

"It will grab their attention," said Ben Diaz, who works with Seon, the company that manufactures the system. "Even with headphones, it will grab their attention."

Diaz says the alert is loud enough that even kids distracted by phones or headphones would be able to hear it. He says drivers and bus drivers will also be able to hear.

The drivers also have a monitor inside the bus that will give them alerts as to what is happening.

Brette Fraley, director of transportation for Kanawha County Schools, says this technology is meant to further cut down on illegal passes of school buses.

"I don't understand how you can't see a 40-foot bus that's yellow with the lights and extended stop arm and everything else we have put on them, but they don't," Fraley said.

Fraley says that in West Virginia, illegal passes have gone down. They've gone up nationally, though.

"I don't know what the answer is, but we need to keep bringing attention to it," Fraley said. "We continue to work for student's safety."

This new system is part of a pilot program that Kanawha County is doing with the West Virginia Department of Education.

Fraley says if they see the program works and is helping keep illegal passes down, more may be added in the future.

The company that makes the system says it has been around for about a year and has already helped save a child's life in Florida.