The project will strengthen existing measures in place to prevent bridge strikes and build on Stagecoach’s use of the GreenRoad driver safety and fuel efficiency system.
GreenRoad’s core safety system is installed on all of Stagecoach’s 8000 buses in Scotland, England and Wales.
Using a simple traffic-light-like LED system on the dashboard, the GreenRoad system gives drivers instant feedback about their driving manoeuvres, encouraging smoother, safer, more fuel-efficient driving that is more comfortable for passengers.
Stagecoach has been in discussions with GreenRoad over the past eight months on how to extend the telematics technology to further improve safety for its fleet – including its 3800 double decker buses – around low bridges.
Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach chief executive, said: “Everything we do starts with safety – for our customers, our people, pedestrians and other road users. Buses are already one of the safest forms of travel, but every year we invest millions of pounds in training our professional driving team and new technology to make our public transport operations even safer.
“We have been working for many months with GreenRoad to design this important Low Bridge Alert enhancement to their proven safety technology, and are now implementing it to bolster the extensive measures we already have in place.”
The intelligent GreenRoad system will use GPS vehicle location data and mapping services to alert the driver to nearby low bridges. If the technology determines the bus is heading towards a low bridge, it will sound an in-cab alert, allowing a safe exit route that avoids the bridge.
Data from Network Rail shows there were 1714 railway bridge strikes across the country in 2019/20.
While most of these incidents involved heavy goods vehicles HGVs, around 50 a year related to buses.
As well as the potential for serious injuries, bridge strikes have significant financial and other costs for the country. On average, a single bridge strike costs more than £6000 and over the last year resulted in more than 7800 hours of delays for rail passengers alone.
Following a 16-week software development phase, the technology and associated speakers will be installed on Stagecoach buses across the country by summer 2021.