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Smart bus technology helps keep students safe in Manatee County

Manatee School for the Arts is the first in Florida to roll out high-tech buses aimed at keeping students safe.

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. — As a parent of two kids, I know keeping them safe is top priority. 

A recent study finds many parents want some type of technology to be able to track their children who ride the school bus.

Well, that technology exists and is being used right here in Tampa. Manatee School for the Arts launched it at the beginning of the school year.  

CFO Tim McMurray says it’s equipped with Doppler radar, Wi-fi, GPS and more. He says it makes the ride to and from school safer.

“This is a game-changing technology for the safety of the children,” McMurray said.

At the start of the school year, drivers rolled out with $2 million worth of technology to keep students safe and give parents peace of mind.

Each can be tracked in real-time using a phone app. A swipe of a card alerts parents when their child gets on and off the bus. Radar and anti-collision technology giving drivers a 360 view of their bus at all times. They also have GPS and student Wi-Fi.

These super buses help protect other drivers too. An alarm goes off if someone tries to pass a stopped school bus. Lane drift control helps drivers manage distance from other cars. Finally, it tells the drivers the correct bus stop for the kid.

“There’s not enough today concerning the stop signs used on bus transportation,” McMurray said.

Manatee School of the Arts is the first in Florida with this technology. While the gadgets are cool, they’re also expensive. Education funding in Florida is already at a deficit so there is no word as of now if other districts will follow suit.

The same tech is being used by school districts in North Carolina and Arizona.