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Technology Helps Keep R-12 School Buses Safe for Students

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Dozens of school buses are rolling off the line in Springfield today for the first day of class - but not before some high-tech inspections for safety.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Summer break is now over - this is the day some kids look forward to, and some kids dread.
Like it or not,  today is the first day of school for many schools in the area.

KOLR10's Justin Dougherty is live at what is about to be the busiest place in Springfield - the Springfield Public Schools Transportation Center, just off Chestnut Expressway and Glenstone: 

The first bus will leave here around 5:45am.  After that, 127 more buses will disperse across town for  the first day of school.

But before the buses ever leave the lot, each driver must kick the tires...literally.
       
"He'll probably kick the tire.. That's what he's suppose to do. That's part of it."

This bus driver is like every bus driver working for Rick Emling and Springfield Public Schools.

"Every driver has to do this every day," Emling explains.

About 15 minutes before each bus trip, each bus driver takes a pre trip.

"We inspect everything from the lighting systems to the lighting systems, to the breaks to the tire wear, to the tire pressure," says Emling.

Required by law, the safety inspection standards are high as is the technology being used to conduct them.

"Every morning when they come on board every driver grabs a hand held unit.  They use it when they walk around with a pad and check everything off"

For the past four years bus drivers in Springfield have been using Zonar brand sensors to complete inspection check lists.

"You get within proximity of this and the system knows you inspected this," Emling demonstrates.

Once the outside of the bus is ready to leave the lot.

"He'll check the mirrors here... and there's a sensor at this bar"

The technology inside the bus isnt limited to the Zonars

"We've got a GPS system that isn't just synced to where the bus driver is... but also where they are on the route."

But the district isn't just watching from the sky.

"We also have four cameras to cover every angle inside," Emling says. "If a parent calls we can tell them the bus is about 10 minutes out to you."

From inside,  to outside, to way outside, these big yellow buses are ready for a big school year.

"It's all about safety - the way it's suppose to be," Emling stresses.

If any part of the bus fails inspection, it is pulled off the line immediately and does not leave the lot until repairs are made.

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