MILTON — The Santa Rosa School district is implementing technology that records bus drivers' unusual maneuvers and aims to coach them.
The Lytx DriveCam Safety Program operates through National Express, a British multinational public transport company, according to a July 27 presentation by the district's transportation department.
The video-based coaching and safety program uses a palm-sized event recorder that identifies certain driving behaviors; it is designed to capture short video clips when activated by unusual driving events such as hard braking, sudden acceleration, swerving or excessive speed.
The transportation department presented the Santa Rosa County School Board with data from Durham School Services, the company that provides school bus service to county schools.
Data included in the presentation included the numbers of bus routes, bus drivers, bus monitors, fuel consumption, illegal passing incidents, school bus-related accidents and the new DriveCam feature. Virginia Sutler, operations supervisor for Durham in Milton and the north end of the county, shared the information.
According to the presentation, there are currently 198 regular bus routes in the county: 22 on the north end of the county, 39 in Milton, 42 in Pace and 62 on the south end. There are 33 bus routes for Exceptional Student Education: 15 in Milton, seven in Pace and 11 on the south end. The county has the goal of recruiting 30 additional routes.
There are 35 drivers in the county: five on the north end, 10 in Milton, five in Pace and 15 on the south end. There are 31 bus monitors in the county: 15 in Milton, seven in Pace and nine on the south end. There are 30 bench, or substitute drivers, for the county.
According to the report, the county’s school buses used 281,120.43 gallons of diesel fuel during the 2016-2017 school year at a cost of $693,330.05; 28,518.5 gallons of unleaded fuel was consumed at a cost of $66,493.29.
The state of Florida conducted a survey on 103 out of 198 bus routes in Santa Rosa County, specifically on the illegal passing of school buses. The survey was done on a single day during the school year.
According to the survey's results, there were 30 total incidents that day: 14 in the morning, one during midday and 15 in the afternoon. Of the vehicles illegally passing the buses, 22 were from the front, 11 from the rear and 22 from the left. According to Sutler, there was no illegal passing from the right side, which is the side the students enter and exit the bus; Escambia County, however, had eight incidents of cars illegally passing on the right side, which is dangerous.
During the 2016-2017 school year, a number of accidents involving school buses drastically decreased from the previous year, according to Sutler's report. There was one accident while backing up, three tail swings, two hitting fixed objects, two preventable accidents and three non-preventable ones.
In the 2015-2016 school year, there were 12 accidents while backing up, 12 involving a parked vehicle, 12 tail swings, 10 hitting fixed objects, six cross arms, 52 preventable accidents and four that were nonpreventableable.