Development and Evaluation of an Active Warning Device for School Bus Loading and Unloading Points in Areas of Limited Visibility

The primary objectives of this research project were: (1) to develop an active advance warning device (AAWD) comprised of an actuated flashing beacon supplement to a conventional SCHOOL BUS STOP AHEAD sign (S3-1) and (2) to evaluate its effect on driver performance and safety through school bus loading and unloading zones. Secondary objectives were to summarize system components and costs, develop an activation strategy, review the liability risk, review national experience related to safety, and provide guidance regarding specifications and use in Texas. With respect to safety, 37 of 46 studies reported a positive effect resulting from AAWDs. Findings from field studies conducted in Texas also suggest favorable results with confirmed reductions in vehicle approach speeds when the flashing beacon was activated. Costs for the final AAWD are estimated to be $2,000 for the S3-1 sign and flashing beacons and $2,600 for the flashing beacon activation system, not including sign installation or ongoing maintenance and operations costs. A review of published literature and historic case law suggests minimal additional liability risk above what is already experienced by transportation departments. Unique areas of risk relate to "jurisdictional responsibility" for establishing, operating, and maintaining school bus loading and unloading zones and the hazard expectation tied to the flashing beacon activation (i.e., motorists may not exercise the same degree of caution when the bus is not present and the beacons are not flashing despite children being present at the bus stop). Given the favorable safety impacts, the low system cost, and the minimal additional liability risk incurred, the AAWD is recommended for further implementation.

  • Record URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Project Title: Development of an Active Warning Device for School Bus Loading and Unloading Points in Areas of Limited Visibility. A CD-ROM is included with this report, containing draft design detail drawings (TxDOT Product 0-4749-P2).
  • Corporate Authors:

    Texas Transportation Institute

    Texas A&M University System, 3135 TAMU
    College Station, TX  United States  77843-3135

    Texas Department of Transportation

    Research and Technology Implementation Office, P.O. Box 5080
    Austin, TX  United States  78763-5080

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Carson, Jodi L
    • Holick, Andrew
    • Park, Eun Sug
    • Wooldridge, Mark
    • Zimmer, Richard A
  • Publication Date: 2005-2


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: CD-ROM; Figures; Photos; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 102p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01001563
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: FHWA/TX-05/0-4749-1, Technical Report 0-4749-1
  • Contract Numbers: Project 0-4749
  • Created Date: Jul 7 2005 8:49AM