ELYRIA, Ohio –Bob Downin has always had a straightforward approach to equipping school buses. “Above all, it’s about safety,” said Downin, the director of transportation at Clark-Pleasant Community Schools in Whiteland, Indiana. “Parents should know that schools are doing the most to keep their kids safe, and drivers should know that their district cares about them and wholeheartedly supports them on the road. That’s it, and that’s everything.”
At Clark-Pleasant, Downin has overseen the introduction of Bendix® Wingman® Fusion™ – the flagship collision mitigation system from Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC – to the district’s school bus fleet. Among the district’s 76 buses, six are IC Bus Fusion-equipped now, with five more on order. Downin said Clark-Pleasant plans to continue purchasing the IC buses with Wingman Fusion as older buses are replaced.
“Eighty-seven percent of our 6,700 students use school transportation, and we cover a lot of rural territory in all kinds of weather conditions,” Downin said. “If there’s a technology like Wingman Fusion that helps our drivers, doesn’t distract them from what they’re doing, and makes our kids safer, we’re all for it.”
Bendix, the North American leader in the development and manufacture of active safety, air management, and braking system technologies for commercial vehicles, has worked closely with Navistar subsidiary IC Bus to make it the first original equipment manufacturer to offer electronic stability control (ESC) and collision mitigation technology as standard features on air-braked school buses. The Bendix® ESP® Electronic Stability Program full-stability system and Bendix® Wingman® Advanced™ – A Collision Mitigation Technology have come standard on IC Bus CE Series and RE Series school buses with air brakes since 2018. Bendix® Wingman® Fusion™ has also been an option on the CE Series.
“Technology has come so far and so fast in recent years that school districts face a lot of factors when they’re deciding which ones benefit the students and drivers the most,” said Downin. “We’ve worked with video camera companies, seat belt companies – Clark-Pleasant was the first in the state to put lap-and-shoulder belts in place on our buses – and we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about the safety technologies we’ve adopted.”
Clark-Pleasant was the first school district in the country to put collision mitigation systems on its school buses when it began testing Fusion on two buses in 2018.