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Driving Towards a Safer Future

The school day had just ended, and the warm afternoon sun bathed the quiet suburban street in a golden glow. All of the children on the school bus were buzzing with excitement to get home, have a snack, play, and relax. 

As the school bus comes to a halt to let a little boy off, whose backpack seemed almost as big as him, the driver extends the big, red “STOP” sign to signal that all vehicles must come to a halt. 

A driver in a silver sedan, who’s texting, hasn’t noticed the school bus coming to a stop and continues to drive straight. The school bus driver quickly realizes that the sedan isn’t stopping and grabs the little boy’s arm, preventing him from jumping off the bus. 

The driver in the sedan, finally realizing their mistake, screeched to a halt, narrowly avoiding an accident. The little boy exits the bus with a mix of confusion and fear in his eyes. 

Violations Happening Every Year
Unfortunately, drivers not paying attention or disregarding a school bus stop-arm is a common occurrence. According to the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services (NASDPTS), more than 41.8 million drivers illegally pass school buses each year. 

“Too often, the safety of our nation’s children is put into question simply because motorists are either not paying attention or are in a hurry. This is simply unacceptable,” states Patrick McManamon, the President of NASDPTS. “Motorists must understand the rules of the road and must follow them every single day.” 

In order to keep our children safe, drivers need to be off their phones, paying attention, and following the traffic laws. To further prevent school bus-related accidents and violations, Audi and Navistar are working on a new car technology to prevent school bus-related accidents and violations. 

New Tech 
Audi and Navistar are combating school bus stop-arm violations with direct communication technology, also called Connected Vehicle-to-Everything (C-V2X)

“The C-V2X technology is all about improving safety for all on our roads and provides an incredibly valuable step toward automated driving,” says Anupam Malhotra, the Head of Connected Services at Audi of America. 

This technology allows school buses to communicate with nearby vehicles, which will alert the drivers to slow down in school zones and stop when children are boarding or disembarking. Additionally, when a vehicle continues to approach a bus (when the “STOP” sign is out), the bus driver will get a notification alerting them of the vehicle’s speed, how close it is, and what direction the car is approaching. This can prevent the bus driver from letting children off when other drivers are distracted or disregarding traffic laws. 

“Direct communication allows vehicles and school buses to communicate 10 times per second at a distance of up to 400 yards, virtually eliminating the latency inherent to communicating via cell tower networks,” states the Audi of America Press Release. “Each vehicle shares its location, speed, and direction with others, thereby providing more safety for all, especially when every second counts.”

Audi expects to see large-scale benefits in three to five years once this technology becomes mainstream. Not only will new cars have C-V2X, but existing vehicles can also have a transponder installed to have this technology.

“Direct communication technology – and its ability to see dangers not visible to drivers – will be key to unlock the next substantial improvements to road safety and should be available to all,” Malhotra says. 

The development of C-V2X is designed to notify drivers about school bus stopping and protect the safety of our children, and is an exciting step forward in road safety. Rather than cars nearly avoiding a school-bus-related accident, this technology will notify distracted drivers and bus drivers. 


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