Dept. of Transportation issues creative challenge to students


The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration of the Department of Transportation recently announced the onset of a contest challenging students to create an app to aid in safety when making bus travel plans.

The FMCSA is looking specifically for an online answer to help people make smarter and safer decisions when traveling on buses. The department would like their own bus safety data to be included in the app to inform travelers of safety tips, but also to raise awareness.

While the FMCSA launched their app “SaferBus” this past March, this challenge is asking qualified participants to take it to the next level by creating connecting apps and sources of information that will best fit the needs of travelers.

[Photo Credit: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration]

“SaferBus” includes behavior analysis and safety improvement categories, or BASICs. The BASICs include specific topics such as unsafe driving, fatigued driving (hours-of-service), driver fitness, controlled substance and alcohol and vehicle maintenance. All of these subjects provide the consumer with important background information on the companies they are turning to for travel needs.

The official blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation states that the “DOT makes available to the public performance data about interstate commercial bus companies, but it will take a consumer-minded developer to transform that raw data into innovative, user-friendly tools for travelers.”

Nate McDonald, the senior public information officer at the Utah Dept. of Transportation, hopes that students across the state of Utah will get involved in this challenge and help in the development of the program.

“I think this contest will help to bring greater awareness about travel safety,” McDonald said. “Our department created a website called ‘TravelWise‘ which does something similar. We encourage people to think a little more about how they travel and if they can travel a little wiser to help eliminate vehicles on the road. We want people to travel more wisely and bus travel is definitely a part of that.”[Photo Credit: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration]

In an official statement from the FMCSA public affairs office, they refer to their app as raw data and hope that it will facilitate more creative thinking and outlooks on the project.

“We want developers to go beyond our SaferBus app launched in March and design innovative, user-friendly tools for travelers. It is all about safety, and this challenge gets students thinking more about safety, as well as helping to save the lives of others.”

The “Motorcoach Safety Data Utilization Student Challenge” is open to anyone 18 years or older and enrolled or planning to enroll in a fully-accredited higher education institution. Submissions for the competition will be accepted starting April 30, and will close on Aug. 1. The winner of the contest will be announced Sep. 20.

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