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Sending a child to school by bus can be nerve wracking for parents. After all, they don’t know if their child boarded the bus, was safe on it and reached school, let alone if he found the right bus to come home

Then consider the statistic from the WHO that 41% of deaths of children in India are because of a lack of road transportation safety – the highest in the world. When parents think about it, they tend to get a bit more concerned (as they should).

Parents of children riding on school buses with GPS can breathe a bit easier. That’s because these fleets are equipped with components that make the bus safer – in addition to increasing convenience, accountability, and economic savings. Here’s what parents need to know about school bus GPS:

Safety is a big concern for most parents. School bus GPS can help bring peace of mind to parents. RFID or smartcard readers can be installed in school bus doorways so that the bus can keep track of exactly where every child is at all times. (They can also use existing school IDs or tablets.) Parents can log in on their mobiles or the web to know if the bus is running late, minimizing the time children have to wait at bus stops (which is less time to be exposed to criminal predators, bad weather or other dangers).

A central Command Center or Control Room (dispatch center) can easily and safely communicate with drivers and parents at all times, allowing drivers to be warned about potential dangers. Drivers can also ask for assistance in cases of accidents, delays, alternate routes during traffic jams, on-board bullying and misbehavior, mechanical breakdown, or other potential crises.

An emergency infrastructure is installed on the bus for added security. If there is a serious medical issue, the bus driver can press a button that sends out information immediately to the central command center. If they don’t see the bus moving in a short time period, they can call the driver and authorities with the bus’ exact location for quick dispatch.

Close circuit television cameras (CCTVs) and live webcams can monitor and transmit the safety of the bus and its children on-board at all times, to parents, schools and the central dispatch. This deters bullying and misbehavior by children, attendants and drivers, and allows well-wishers and authorities to keep a close watch on potential criminals or predators who might be on the bus, or may try to get on the bus with children on board.

And finally, GPS tracking can help protect children from being abducted. Since cases of missing children are on the rise, utilizing tracking technology to help keep children safe is a benefit to both school officials and parents. A good GPS tracking device can confirm whether a child was on an assigned bus and if they got off the bus. Knowing that a child is on their assigned bus and traveling to the right location provides assurance to parents and can help police in the event that the child was not where they were supposed to be.

With school bus GPS, you can see in real-time if any student has boarded or exited the bus. Did the child get picked up this morning? Was he dropped off at his assigned stop? Which students are on Bus 32 right now? All of these questions can be answered with the Student Attendance solution. GPS allows school authorities to know precisely which students were on the bus at the time of an accident or incident.

Schools with GPS have recorded data that can help protect them should anything go awry. In the event of an accident, school bus GPS documents every motion of the bus, from the over-speeding to harsh braking to rash driving to route and stop violations. Should anyone dispute this, the school has evidence to back up their case.

GPS also improves the regularity and timeliness of preventative maintenance with automatic tracking on vehicles. Schools can know in advance when bus servicing is due to minimize downtime and unwanted breakdowns, as well as allowing sufficient time to schedule substitute buses.

In addition to adding accountability and convenience, school bus GPS is saving parents money. Schools monitor bus driving patterns to make sure drivers are operating their vehicles efficiently, eliminating unnecessary idling (which limits gas waste), observing speed limits and not taking detours. It minimizes impact on the environment, trims pollutant emissions, and reduces the fleet’s carbon footprint.

School buses can be monitored in real time for the amounts of fuel they fill, use and consume. This deters fuel theft and pilferage, and discourages misuse of the buses by drivers or unauthorized personnel. It significantly lowers the costs of transportation and maintenance.

Schools are able to review actual ridership by bus or route, so that they know if buses are being fully utilized. If not, they can plan new routes – or analyze planned routes versus actual loads. With documented data of the exact run times, schools can issue more accurate transport payments which saves time and minimizes errors for both drivers and fleet managers. And because GPS is considered an anti-theft device by most insurance companies, schools can save on insurance premiums, too. More accurate mileage tracking also means better warranty recovery, which is another cost saving.

GPS doesn’t just make a school bus fleet more profitable; it increases safety, convenience, accountability, and economic savings…all of which are things parents want to hear so that they can rest easier about their child riding the bus. It’s time for schools across the country and around the world to utilize GPS tracking technology. Parents can gain peace of mind by having the answer to the age-old question: It’s 3 p.m.: Do you know where you children are?