Transportation Policy

Dallas Unveils Super-Safe New School Bus With Fingerprint Scanner and Rear-View 'Pedophile Finder'

Not an April Fools' gag.


Worried that a child molester is tailing your kid's school bus, just waiting for an opportunity to swoop inside and seize your child? Fear no longer. The Dallas Observer reports:

The indicator light is on.

Dallas County Schools…sent word last Friday that it was preparing to unveil the "School Bus of the Future," and that this futuristic vehicle will "will revolutionize school bus transit and exponentially increase the safe passage of students to and from school."…

A brief glance won't tell you the new buses are equipped with voice-over-IP communication systems, or that they transmit data on speed, location and acceleration in real-time. The "Thumbs-Up!" thumbprint scanner, which keeps track of which kids are on the bus and whether they're supposed to be there, is also hard to see unless you're really pressing your face to the glass, as are the multiple interior security cameras.

Slightly easier to notice is the rear-facing camera, dubbed—no joke—the "Pedophile Finder."

"I wish we could have come up with a better name for it," says Dallas County Schools spokeswoman Allison Allison. (Yes, that's the correct name.) The camera, mounted on the top portion of the school bus and positioned to capture the license plate of tailing vehicles, isn't just to catch pedophiles. It could be a parent who lost custody of their child, or a kidnapper. But "Pedophile Finder" was the name that stuck.

"The bus driver can't tell if somebody's tailing him but if they recognize a pattern of a car following a bus" based on video, they can take appropriate measures.

Your guess is as good as mine as to what those "appropriate measures" might be. The bus does not come with a rear-mounted machine gun, so it's not that.

Dallas parents can see the "BusGuard System" specs here, can read a press release about the buses here, and can look for homeschooling support groups here.

[Via Lenore Skenazy and Maggie McNeill.]