Tracking technology keeps learners safe on school trips

Issue 2 2021 Education (Industry)

Car tracking and fleet intelligence company Netstar, a subsidiary of Altron, will provide telematics units worth more than R200 000 for scholar transport vehicles in eThekwini, as part of the ‘Safe to School – Safe to Home’ school transport project. The project is run with Road Safety Partnership (RSP) South Africa, Toyota South Africa and the eThekwini Transport Authority (ETA).

The project will use car-tracking technology to monitor driver behaviour in the next phase of an ambitious programme to protect learners on their way to school on the country’s notoriously dangerous roads.

The project aims to reduce death and injury from road crashes among children travelling to and from school. Its other objectives are to educate drivers about road safety and enhance their driving performance, to improve the quality of scholar transport and to set a safety example to all school-transport operators.

The project is being implemented in schools around Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. It is a three-year project which is set to reach an estimated 120 taxi drivers, 2000 passengers and around 10 000 learners.

This year marks the start of the third phase. After lockdown impacted the implementation of the project, it has been extended by six months, with the third phase largely funded by Netstar. This phase will involve driver monitoring via telematics units, similar to those used for vehicle tracking and fleet management in the commercial world.

“We are excited to partner with Netstar on the next stage of this project,” said Lucky Molaudzi, general manager of RSP South Africa. “South Africa suffered more than 12 000 road deaths last year, and we are working to reduce these horrific numbers, particularly among school children. We know that by improving the driving of the people transporting our children to school, we can make a big difference.”

Molaudzi said the initiative was a pilot project and learnings from the programme would be applied in rolling it out to other parts of South Africa. RSP South Africa is part of the international GRSP group, a non-profit organisation based in Geneva (Switzerland) working towards building a world free of road-crash death and injury.

The Safe to School – Safe to Home programme also provides culturally relevant training in driver fitness, driver behaviour, vehicle fitness, passenger behaviour, school, parent and community involvement and compliance with policies and regulations.

“We are proud to be part of the Safe to School – Safe to Home project,” said Netstar MD Pierre Bruwer. “Children are our most precious resource and we are thrilled to be able to use our expertise in telematics and the Internet of Things to help improve driver behaviour and keep our children safe as they go to and from school every day.”

“Education should be about improving your knowledge and your opportunities, not about being in danger. We are committed to working with our partners to make that vision a reality,” said Bruwer.

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