Maine school buses get cameras, GPS
Updated: April 15, 2013 2:11AM
East Maine School District 63 is equipping its buses with on-board cameras and GPS units next year to better ensure the safety of students and drivers.
The decision to add the devices came one week after an out-of-control school bus careened down a 1.3-mile stretch of Oakton Street in Park Ridge and Niles.
The district’s contract discussions with transportation contractor Septran, Inc., however, predated the Jan. 29 accident involving bus driver Elaine C. Delaney, 77, of Wheeling.
Delaney suffered a medical emergency behind the wheel and crashed into several vehicles while en route to a District 63 school in Des Plaines.
Students were not on the bus at the time, though Delaney and five other motorists were transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Septran provided the bus involved in the accident.
“Thank God no one, especially children, was extremely hurt,” said Bob Hach, the private bus company’s president, at a District 63 Board of Education meeting Feb. 6.
He described Delaney, a 15-year Septran employee with a flawless driving record, as “a very good woman” qualified for the job. She was released from the hospital Feb. 1.
Hach said representatives of the Illinois Department of Transportation visited the company’s facility the day after the accident and determined the vehicle was well maintained. The Secretary of State also conducted a review of the driver’s and company’s files.
“From a company standpoint, I’m happy to report to you we’re in good shape both mechanically and in recording-keeping,” Hach said.
He chalked up the incident to uncontrollable circumstances, to which several board members agreed.
“You can’t predict something like that,” Walter Gluzkin said.
The district’s newly-extended contact with Septran for one year includes installing state-of-the-art cameras and vehicle tracking systems to enhance safety and security on board school vehicles.
Beginning next school year, digital cameras will be placed in the rear and front end of buses facing toward the seats. Hach said another camera projecting toward the road may appear intrusive to some drivers, though the footage ultimately provides an invaluable view of other motorists’ actions.
“In many instances they can actually help the driver,” he said.
Regular education transportation for District 63 students is budgeted this year at just over $1 million, according to David Bein, executive director of business services.
School officials renewed the bus contract with a two-percent increase, amounting to an additional $20,120.~.