Not long ago, a shuttle driver who transported students for the Eshkol Regional Council secretly recorded reading and sending messages while transporting children on an interstate road. Not only was the driver fiddling with his cell phone while driving, which caused him to lose focus and endanger the children, but he was also recorded yelling at them and resorting to verbal violence.
The driver was summoned for a hearing and the council terminated his contract. But the problem is that this is not an isolated case. This is just one of the many examples published in recent years of documentation of shuttle drivers using smartphones illegally while driving. Since the documentation that finds its way to the media or social networks represents, one must assume, only the tip of the iceberg of a much broader phenomenon, there is a reason for concern.
Over 300 thousand students every day
The extent of the phenomenon is unclear at this stage. Still, given that more than 300,000 students are transported to and from educational institutions in Israel every day, even if only a tiny portion of the drivers succumb to cell phone distractions while driving, thousands of children are exposed to danger.
This is not the only security threat. Another problematic phenomenon that has been recorded is the picking up and dropping off of children in unregulated places and in a manner that may endanger the children and expose them to harm from other vehicles. Another painful problem is forgetting children in the car, which we also encountered in the context of student transportation, sometimes even with tragic results.
Part of the problem with the transportation system for students in Israel stems from the fact that in Israel, no regulation imposes a uniform standard on vehicles. Although several mandatory regulations have been established in recent decades, including the obligation for the car to have an ABS, for large vehicles to install seat belts and must use them, and the use of a warning system against forgetting children, these are not sufficient.
In different parts of the world, such as the United States, student vehicles have a uniform appearance (such as the famous yellow bus), which makes it very easy to identify the vehicle as transporting students – and therefore, it will also be treated accordingly by other drivers on the road.
In Israel, the situation is different – buses, minibusses, transits and even taxis are randomly used as transportation vehicles and usually will not be recognized as such. Maybe there will be standardization in the future, but as of today, the way to make the shuttles safer probably goes through a different path. The technological path.
At least some of the problems we reviewed, such as the prohibited use of the mobile phone during normal times or the phenomenon of children forgetting, have a technological solution.
Putting an end to cell phone distractions in children’s transportation
Remember the irresponsible driver from the Eshkol Regional Council, who, instead of concentrating on the road, was recorded on a hidden camera while he was absorbed on the mobile phone screen? Today, accessible technological development may prevent such a dangerous situation.
The Israeli company SaverOne has developed technology that knows how to identify the driver’s mobile phone at the beginning of the trip, take control of it and block access to prohibited applications that are dangerous to use while driving. This is not a future development but a system that has already been successfully implemented in many vehicle fleets and through which it is possible to completely prevent the phenomenon that in recent years has been a major cause of accidents with casualties – including serious accidents involving student transportation vehicles. In addition, the SaverOne system has a built-in feature for forgetting children that provides a solution in this segment. So, implementing the system as part of the measures in which a transportation vehicle is obliged to be equipped is expected to significantly improve the security of our children when they are on their way to and from school. Drive carefully.