Shuttle Buses Now Equipped with Audio Safety Feature

Students board a UConn bus. (FJ Gaylor for UConn)

Students board a UConn bus. (FJ Gaylor for UConn)

UConn shuttle buses are now equipped with a safety feature called Safe Turn Alert, which “talks” to pedestrians through the buses’ speakers to notify them when a bus is in the process of making a turn. The feature, which is triggered when a vehicle’s wheels turn past a certain degree, states: “Pedestrian: bus is turning” loud enough for those in the immediate area to hear it.

“I think it is extremely important that university campuses take the lead in utilizing education and technology to its fullest when it comes to heightening awareness of pedestrians and bicyclists to safety issues around them,” said William Wendt, director of transportation, logistics and parking services at UConn. “In a day and age when we can become distracted so easily by phones and personal music machines, alerts to 10-ton vehicles entering your personal space should be viewed as a welcome safety precaution.”

The device also tells bus drivers to look carefully when making a turn.

“We started using the system this week and have already had an interesting response on Facebook and Twitter,” said Janet Freniere, manager of transportation services for UConn. “While some may find it annoying and others may see humor in it, we are confident that it is a very useful tool that will serve its purpose and the pedestrians at UConn well.”

The program began on March 19. Freniere said that the University is still adjusting the volume of the device on certain buses to ensure it is at the correct level. There are as many as 13 UConn shuttle buses operating on the Storrs campus on weekdays.