Bluetooth-based detection systems coupled with flashing beacons activated by approaching school buses is the most cost-effective strategy to enhance safety at school bus stops.

Evaluation of sensing and warning technologies to enhance performance of School Bus Stop Ahead signs.

January 2017
Statewide; Ohio; United States

Summary Information

School Bus Stop Ahead signed are commonly used to warn drivers of locations where school buses typically stop to load and unload passengers, especially when there are issues with horizontal or vertical sight distances. This study considers technologies in use or could be used to augment performance of the signs through sensing (13 technologies) and warning (4 technologies) drivers.


The sensing and warning technologies were evaluated considering the following factors (weights in parenthesis): system capital costs (10 percent), system recurring costs (10 percent), research implementation ready (25 percent), system maintenance time (5 percent), coordination time (5 percent), user intervention requirements (10 percent), and safety benefits (35 percent). The cost model was developed following standard practice in Ohio for installation of school zone traffic control devices. Data for the analysis was derived from the literature.


Based on the evaluation criteria, the Bluetooth-based detection system coupled with flashing beacons activated by Bluetooth media access control (MAC) data transmitted by school buses approaching bus stops was identified as the most cost-effective option to enhance safety in addition to the installation of School Bus Stop Ahead signs.

Flashing beacons on a fixed schedule are estimated to reduce crashes by 15 percent. Activated flashing beacons are estimated to reduce crashes by 29 percent. Activated variable message signs are estimated to reduce crashes by 26 percent.

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Comparison and Evaluation of Potential Technology Enhancements to School Bus Stop Ahead Signs

Author: Katz, Brian, et al.

Published By: Transportation Research Board

Source Date: January 2017


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Goal Areas


Typical Deployment Locations



CCTV, closed circuit television cameras, road monitoring, sensors, vehicle detector, traffic detection, traffic monitoring, congestion monitoring, school bus, school transportation, flashing beacons, bluetooth, dynamic roadway warning, infrastructure-based traffic surveillance

Benefit ID: 2018-01251