Survey: Parents Want GPS Monitoring of Buses

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Parents at Havre Public Schools used to get frustrated when buses would return late from athletic trips, so now they appreciate the “trip-locator” link on the school website that pinpoints the exact location of their child’s bus.

The results of a new survey by Fleetmatics Group PLC show that parents would like more visibility into their children’s safety aboard the school bus, as well as more accountability for operators. Nearly nine in 10 parents responded they want to see closer GPS monitoring of buses and their drivers.

Fleetmatics Group, a global provider of mobile workforce solutions, requested the study to raise awareness of school bus safety during National School Bus Safety Week, from Oct. 20 through 24.

Recent cases of school bus drivers facing DUI charges in Utah and Massachusetts (his third DUI) after transporting students have amplified parents’ concerns. And the survey results bear this out, as bus driver safety ranked highest in the areas parents said require the most improvement. Parents also indicated they prefer the use of technology to directly monitor bus drivers’ safe driving and accountability, including on-time arrival rates.

  • 85 percent of the parents agree that “monitoring school buses via GPS tracking would make for greater overall safety and more timely bus service,” and half believe this strongly;
  • 88 percent favor “monitoring bus drivers for safe driving practices such as speeding or erratic driving,” and 62 percent strongly favor it;
  • 77 percent are interested in the “ability to monitor (their) child’s school bus’ exact location and status” (i.e., via a link on the school’s website), with 42 percent very interested; and
  • 33 percent said their school districts need to improve school bus timeliness.

“Parents’ concern about the safety and whereabouts of their children when they ride the school bus is a powerful and important issue — as Havre Public Schools administrators and countless other similar Fleetmatics customers will tell you,” said Todd Ewing, the company’s director of product marketing. “Readily available technology can play an important role in giving them the peace of mind they are seeking.”

Parents in the Havre Public Schools district in rural Montana appreciate the “trip-locator” link on the school website that allows them to find the precise location of their children’s bus(es) in real time. In the past, parents had to call a hotline for information on buses returning from athletic events, but sometimes the driver or coach would forget to update the system, leaving parents frustrated.

“That was not a good scenario, because they didn’t know when their child was coming home and then they would get upset,” said Leila Haigler of the Havre Schools Transportation Department. “We used to get tons of calls that the bus was late, or it didn’t come or it was early and they left my kid. So we’re using the backtracking now. We can tell them exactly what time a bus was there. This has cut our calls down by 85 to 90 percent.”