In our constantly evolving, tech-saturated world, the bright yellow school bus remains one of the only untouched relics of simpler, less frenetic times. Or so you thought. Earlier this month, the Rutherford County School Board unanimously voted at its regularly scheduled meeting to bring school buses into the future by installing GPS tracking systems.
Beginning with the next school season, all Rutherford County school buses will carry the GPS tracking devices. The cost of the systems is included in the 2016-2017 budget proposal.
Once the systems are installed, they will supersede the more passive location system linked to the current on-bus cameras. The present technology only allows tracking information to be retrieved after a route is completed, whereas the new system will permit instant readouts.
The new system will also allow school officials to extract video from the cameras and identify precisely where the bus was when that footage was taken. Finally, since the GPS tracking devices are transferable, they can be moved from bus to bus when a vehicle is decommissioned.
School Board officials are touting this development as great news for parents, who will now be able to obtain information virtually on the spot about their children’s whereabouts. By allowing district officials to pinpoint a bus’s location at any given moment, the GPS tracking system will help inquiring parents find out where their child’s bus may be before school or post-dismissal.
In addition to GPS tracking, community members can look forward to a few additional developments in bus service. First, all drivers’ names will now be entered into a statewide electronic database. This will make it easier for the Department of Transportation to inform schools if a prospective or current driver receives a license suspension or ticket. Additionally, new Tennessee regulations will render cell phone use while driving cause for immediate termination and permanent loss of bus-driving privileges.