Jump to content
roamer

The Deadly "Blind Spot" on Transit Buses

Recommended Posts

It was suggested by member MAX BRT (in this thread) that perhaps a discussion on this topic may be interesting if not beneficial in calling attention to this issue. Being new to this forum, I'm surprised it hasn't already been discussed or maybe it has in bits and pieces.

There have been many accidents involving pedestrians and transit buses making left turns. Many have been fatal to the pedestrian who is legally crossing the street and bears no fault whatsoever in contributing to the accident. Many of you might remember the incident in Portland Oregon several years ago where two pedestrians lost their lives and several in the same group were injured while crossing the street in a marked crosswalk with a green light when a left-turning TriMet transit bus made contact with the group of five (click here).

Now those of you who don't drive buses might ask "how can you not see a group of five people crossing the street?" And even those of you who have driven buses may have their doubts. However, it's been shown that a pedestrian or even a group of pedestrians can get "lost" from the driver's vision when certain conditions coincide ...the position, location, and size of the left mirror, the thickness of the A-pillar of the bus windshield, other transit related items that may be mounted in the area of the A-pillar (such as the radio handset and/or controls, run card holder, microphone stanchion, auxiliary gauges, etc.), the angle of the turn, the speed of the coach, how fast the pedestrians are walking, the position the driver sits in the seat ...amongst other contributing conditions like weather, amount of light, kind of light, light reflections off glass surfaces insider the coach, etc., etc.

I personally can vouch for this phenomenon as I had several close calls making left turns when I drove transit buses. The problems is more dominant for those of short stature OR those who choose to sit lower in the driver's seat. I am relatively short and in addition feel more comfortable sitting lower in the seat. Therefore, my head may be at the same height as a female driver of 5' 2" or less. When I first started driving buses, I wanted to sit high in the seat with a position that put my upper body more over the steering wheel. However, as the years passed, I found it much more comfortable, especially when driving for long periods of time, to sit lower in the seat. The problem of head height isn't exclusively one limited to physically short drivers as tall people who choose to sit lower in the seat may have their head at the same height as shorter people. A co-worker of mine who was 6' 8" put the seat in its lowest position and as far back as it would go and he appeared to have almost the same head height sitting in the driver's seat as that of a much shorter driver.

After over 30-years of driving a bus and now being retired for more than seven years, I still agonize over this issue especially when I hear of another "pedestrian getting hit by a left-turning bus" accident. Were I in better health, I would spend more time and effort campaigning for transit agencies across the country to focus on the two primary issues as I see it: 1) using a physically smaller left mirror and mounting it in a position that is either top-mounted or is mounted far lower in its position where the driver has to glance either slightly upward or slightly downward in order to view the mirror (see examples of the positions here) and, 2) ordering new buses from manufacturers that endeavor to narrow the windshield A-pillar as much as feasibly possible

I guarantee that by doing those two things alone, it would substantially reduce, if not eliminate entirely, the possibility of left-turning buses accidentally coming in contact with innocent pedestrians crossing the street. As stated in a previous post, I had several very close calls making a left turn where a pedestrian suddenly appeared in my visual field and my just about hitting them with the bus. Thankfully I was able to stop before making contact but it literally scared the sh*t out of both the pedestrian and myself. I can still see the look of terror in the eyes of those pedestrians that I just about hit.

The safety department managers at the agency for which I worked insisted that operators bear the responsibility for making absolutely sure that there are no pedestrians crossing the street before making a turn. I can't argue with that. They contend that we should "rock-and-roll" in the seat before and during a turn to make sure we are looking around all the obstructions on the bus that are creating blind areas. I can't disagree with this notion either. As an operator, I tried to do this but I found it is not an intuitive act and found myself not always consciously "rocking and rolling" as I found it difficult to do this autonomously. Added to all the the other things that a transit operator is concentrating on doing sometimes made it even more difficult to consciously do it on each and every turn.

Now I'm not contending that if I had run over a pedestrian with a bus that I would deny responsibility for the accident and put blame elsewhere. However, it irritated me as all that the agency had to do is lower the the position of the left mirror and it would have not only made it unnecessary for me to "rock-and-roll" but would have reduced so much stress when driving the bus ...as if we didn't already have enough things that cause stress on that job!

As a side note, shortly after I retired, the agency I once worked for did in fact retrofit all of their buses with smaller left mirrors and mount them lower in addition to specifying that all their orders of new coaches have these smaller and lower-mounted mirrors done at the factory. Here is an example of what our mirrors looked like before they retrofitted to use a smaller square-shaped mirror about half that size in length. However, the excuses they gave while I was under their employ and complained about this issue were 1) the ideal position for a left mirror is as close to eye level as possible ...not really, glancing slightly upward or slightly downward when viewing the mirror has proven to be insignificant factor and, 2) if they top-mounted left mirrors, they worried that there would be a lot of accidents in the yard as the left mirrors would be the approximate same height as the right mirrors and therefore maneuvering buses in the yard would knock off mirrors as buses are being parked or serviced ...I question that concern too as there have been other properties that have gone to top-mounted left mirrors report that mirror accidents in the yard did not substantially increase.

Also, many agencies around the country have been specifying top-mounted mirrors (click here, here, here, to see a few examples). So progress is being made. However, as mentioned above, I would like to see transit agencies also focus on the other items that add to a driver's visual obstruction on his or her left side, i.e. handset cradles, run card holders, radio controls, microphone stanchions, etc., etc.

Focus on these things instead of spending money on talking buses that announce through a loudspeaker that the bus is turning (waste of money IMO) or holding re-training sessions for drivers on the art of "rocking-and-rolling" (bus drivers do not intentionally "not see" pedestrians for the hell of it) ...yes, some transit agencies actually held re-training classes to "teach" operators how to rock-and-roll. And some agencies even eliminating as many left turns as possible ...I say, not as necessary as one would think.

Sorry for the long dissertation. Getting back to my original post on this board that brought about this topic, TriMet in Portland Oregon, that had that tragic accident in 2010, has been ordering Gillig Advantage BRT coaches that have that "double A-pillar" that necessitates an added sliver of glass that needs its own wiper and in addition, appears not to have made any modifications to their left mirror configuration. Had they ordered Gillig Advantage coaches in the non-BRT configuration with top-mounted mirrors as Butte Silver Bow Transit in Montana, I would have given them kudos for trying to improve the chances of not having another tragic left-turn accident happen again.

I'd welcome any discussion, thoughts, or support. Thanks for reading ...if I kept your attention to this point. :P






Point of emphasis of this dissertation: again, let's push for transit agencies to use either the first or third example ...CLICK HERE for that illustration. The illustration also shows what an obstruction having a wide A-pillar plays in the mix. See this photo for the HUGE obstruction the A-pillar creates on the older Gillig Phantoms in addition to this bus also having a radio handset mounted in the area and its cord dangling there too ...CLICK HERE

Article from the Oregonian newspaper on the lawsuit where New Flyer along with TriMet is ordered to pay the families of the victims in the accident ...the left mirror is mentioned but I'm not certain if that is why New Flyer is involved as TriMet would seem to me to be responsible for dictating to New Flyer on where they want the mirror mounted --the A-pillar is not mentioned: CLICK HERE

Article from a Philadelphia FOX station that sums up this issue and the concerns of drivers there: CLICK HERE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent article. And add to the mix the modern pedestrian plugged into ipods or busy texting while crossing really doesn't help. Pedestrians are just as responsible for their own safety.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a series of photos that I wanted to link in my initial post which showed different coaches from a variety of transit agencies around the country that have gone to the "top-mounted left mirror configuration" but I forgot to link them and now I've lost them all.

However, there is no real need to show such a variety of photos. All that needs to be shown is what is recommended to "free up" the outward left field of vision for the driver and what constitutes a mirror configuration that could substantially blocks the driver's vision of pedestrians.

Here is what should NOT be used ...it features a vertically long left mirror head mounted at approximately eye-level of the driver (from CT Transit in the Hartford Connecticut area on a NFI D40LF):

Not a good mirror head to use and poor mounting position

Repost of the SEPTA in Philadelphia example from the drivers' seat of the "death mirrors"

Here are two examples of top-mounted left mirrors which free up the visual area that could possibly hide pedestrians:

Gillig Advantage non-BRT from Everett Transit in Washington state

Gillig Advange BRT from C-Tran in Vancouver Washington

Many other transit agencies are going to the top-mounted left mirrors that have been used on buses in Europe for many years. It is probably the best solution in terms of safety.

However, if the mirror head itself is small and can be mounted in a position where it substantially low enough where any driver can still see it from the bottom of the window, that also can be a suitable mounting position and probably less costly.

In 1996, Seattle Washington's King County Metro received a huge order of Gillig Phantoms with the specification for a left mirror head in the large rectangular configuration mounted a the driver's eye level similar to the CT Transit in Connecticut example. Followed was a large order of NFI D60HF coaches with the same left mirror configuration. To their credit, they have completely retrofitted their entire fleet of remaining Gillig Phantoms and D60HF coaches with a square mirror head mounted lower than the original mirror. Since then, their specs for new coaches have all called for the smaller and lower-mounted mirrors. Maybe not quite as effective at clearing obstructed views of pedestrians as the top-mounted configuration but a HUGE improvement over the old design and allows most drivers to see OVER the mirror head without as much rocking-and-rolling which will no doubt prevent future pedestrian fatalities when the bus makes left turns.

KCM Gillig Phantom with retrofitted left-mirror

KCM NFI D60HF with retrofitted left mirror

ETA: In my opinion, one thing that prevents transit agencies from taking swift action on this issue is that those in the decision-making process have never driven buses in service. Perhaps a few have but many of the higher-level managers who are responsible for making such decisions (safety department heads, operations managers, etc.) have not ever driven buses themselves. This comes from my own experience in trying to explain things to these managers ...though intelligent and educated, they don't seem to grasp the principle of it all. Talking buses and eliminating left turns is not the answer; eliminating visual obstructions IS the answer in my humble opinion. However, I burn bridges by making a statement like this but if it opens just one transit manager's mind, then I'll take the chance in publishing my comments on this forum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That blind spot can scare the crap out of the best experienced drivers out there. I just about ran a lady over in Montreal while driving a Nova LFS on a shuttle run. I had finished loading at a stop and had to make a sharp left when pulling away from that stop, never saw the lady hidden behind the left mirror until she appeared in the corner window and was within 4 feet of getting hit. A heavy brake application saved the day but with only inches to spare. Found out she approached the bus on a diagonal path which went right behind the mirror head.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That blind spot can scare the crap out of the best experienced drivers out there. I just about ran a lady over in Montreal while driving a Nova LFS on a shuttle run. I had finished loading at a stop and had to make a sharp left when pulling away from that stop, never saw the lady hidden behind the left mirror until she appeared in the corner window and was within 4 feet of getting hit. A heavy brake application saved the day but with only inches to spare. Found out she approached the bus on a diagonal path which went right behind the mirror head.

Exactly!! ...thank you for your comments.

Your story is an example of the situation I described as "when certain conditions coincide." Like I've said a thousand times since Ms Day's accident in Portland Oregon "There but for the grace of God go I." It was just pure luck that I didn't have a fatality collision with a pedestrian in my career while making a left turn in a bus.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Happened in Edmonton with a New Flyer. A lady (with a cell phone) was crossing 97 Street (west to east) and the bus was turning left (south) onto 97 Street from 102 A Ave (west to south). The morning sun in the east was being reflected on the mirrored glass of an office tower, so the 'sun' was also in the drivers eyes.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Same thing happened here in Saskatoon as well, an older guy was crossing the street back in 2008, and the bus started to move, knocked the guy over, and he ended up dying in the hospital later... Was in the driver's front corner.

The bus was a 2006 New Flyer, pic below...

http://www.busdrawings.com/Transit/sk/sktn/2006d40lfr/0602left.jpg (photo credits to Peter McLaughlin)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Happened in Edmonton with a New Flyer. A lady (with a cell phone) was crossing 97 Street (west to east) and the bus was turning left (south) onto 97 Street from 102 A Ave (west to south). The morning sun in the east was being reflected on the mirrored glass of an office tower, so the 'sun' was also in the drivers eyes.

I agree with you, captaintrolley. Pedestrians should be paying attention and in an ideal scenario, people shouldn't be using cell phones, either for talk or texting, while crossing a street ...no matter if in a crosswalk or at a controlled intersection with a green light.

However, it is ultimately the responsibility of the person driving the motor vehicle to watch and avoid these pedestrians. Even if the motor vehicle driver mows down a pedestrian walking across the street at an intersection within a marked crosswalk and a green "walk" light, the driver of the motor vehicle can't use the defense "hey, that pedestrian was texting on her cell phone and should have been able to see me approaching."

Your description of the sun playing a part in distracting or obstructing the driver's view is a point that I forgot to make in my list of factors that could play into that "when certain conditions coincide" scenario. Thanks for mentioning it.

I remember reading about another bus driver testifying in an accident review that the reflection of the sun being in his eyes was a contributing factor in the accident. However, again, that is usually not taken as a valid defense in accident review as it is the driver's responsibility to shied the sun away from his or her eyes in most circumstances.

Same thing happened here in Saskatoon as well, an older guy was crossing the street back in 2008, and the bus started to move, knocked the guy over, and he ended up dying in the hospital later... Was in the driver's front corner.

The bus was a 2006 New Flyer, pic below...

http://www.busdrawin...fr/0602left.jpg (photo credits to Peter McLaughlin)

GMC T6H-5307N, that NFI coach that you've referenced is a prime example of the left-mirror in the exact size and mounting height that I'm complaining about. So many transit properties are still using that mirror head and mounting position. It will probably take a few more pedestrians getting killed before Saskatoon Transit makes changes and even that might not do it. I hope they get the message and act on it before somebody else is needlessly killed while crossing the street.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is what should NOT be used ...it features a vertically long left mirror head mounted at approximately eye-level of the driver (from CT Transit in the Hartford Connecticut area on a NFI D40LF):

Not a good mirror head to use and poor mounting position

Repost of the SEPTA in Philadelphia example from the drivers' seat of the "death mirrors"

I had the same problem with driving school buses with those same mirrors and also the same problem driving NFI D40LFs with the same mirror. Two of the coping methods that I have used to prevent a collision with pedestrians is to move your head along with your body and sit up in a high position (enough for your feet to comfortably touch the pedals) with your seat set in the 90° position (sitting straight up) which sould give you the "big picture" when you come into an intersection.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had the same problem with driving school buses with those same mirrors and also the same problem driving NFI D40LFs with the same mirror. Two of the coping methods that I have used to prevent a collision with pedestrians is to move your head along with your body and sit up in a high position (enough for your feet to comfortably touch the pedals) with your seat set in the 90° position (sitting straight up) which sould give you the "big picture" when you come into an intersection.

Thank you very much for the comments, NeOn. Yes, I too did exactly what you described, especially immediately after each "close call." However, for me, it was okay sitting as such for a few hours but became uncomfortable for me for long 8-12 hour shifts. Sitting higher in the seat gave me cramps in my legs, exacerbated some back problems, and embarrassingly, brought on hemorrhoids. Therefore, as stated previously, I always resorted back to sitting lower in the seat.

I still felt that I could get "the big picture" or at least, a big enough picture of intersections, etc. by sitting a bit lower in the seat. As long as I could see over the top of the left mirror, I knew I was seeing what I wanted to see in a safe manner. When I couldn't see over the top of the mirror, I was stressed as I was always worried about missing something.

But again, the point of my campaign to get these mirrors re-positioned and to use physically smaller mirror heads is to make it easy for ALL drivers --even those under 5-feet tall; and yes, we had some operators at our agency that were under 5-feet tall-- to have as much unobstructed view to their left side as possible to avoid left-turn accidents as has been described.

Yes, it may cost transit agencies some money to do some retrofitting but isn't it worth it if it will save just one life?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The positive aspects of these mirrors is backing up and trying to squeeze through objects/vehicles or go by an object at close range without hitting it.

But again, the point of my campaign to get these mirrors re-positioned and to use physically smaller mirror heads is to make it easy for ALL drivers --even those under 5-feet tall; and yes, we had some operators at our agency that were under 5-feet tall-- to have as much unobstructed view to their left side as possible to avoid left-turn accidents as has been described.

Good luck with that since "statistics" says most accidents can be prevented... Transit Agencies and Carriers would just simply blame you and not the mirror's obstruction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The positive aspects of these mirrors is backing up and trying to squeeze through objects/vehicles or go by an object at close range without hitting it.

With due respect, I don't understand your point at all. Why would a large rectangular mirror head substantially aid in backing up? ...or for squeezing in tight places? But that's okay, we're all entitled to our opinion.

Good luck with that since "statistics" says most accidents can be prevented... Transit Agencies and Carriers would just simply blame you and not the mirror's obstruction.

Yes, most "accidents" are preventable. I totally agree. Is it the easy way out for a transit agency to blame the operator for any accident? Absolutely. However, if you've gone through those links in my previous posts, you'll see that the thought process pertaining to this issue is changing. As ATU and other transit unions have argued, there's more and more evidence that clearing physical, left-side obstructions from a driver's field of vision has proven that these "pedestrian/left-turn" accidents can be further prevented. This especially pertains to short drivers who are 5' 2" or less that have no real choice as how they sit in the seat in order to avoid the over-sized mirror obstruction.

I had 28 consecutive years without a preventable accident. I considered my self extremely safety conscious. I spent many years on safety committees and served several years as an instructor in the transit division. BUT YET, I had at least two near-misses when making left turns in which I missed hitting a pedestrian by inches. And again, immediately after these near misses, I tried sitting higher in the seat and using the rock-and-roll only to gradually progress back to sitting where I felt the most comfortable. Did I try my best to rock-and-roll? Absolutely. However, there must have been a time where I failed to do it and who knows why ...there are so many things that transit operators must do simultaneously as you well know.

I'm going to admit something here that could have gotten me fired in the day. When I had the chance, I would physically lower those large rectangular mirrors on the rod they were mounted on by using some pliers and a combinations of several types of screw drivers. When finished with my shift, I would put the mirror back in its original position if I had the chance (...some of my fellow operators who knew what I was doing would tell me to just leave it). By doing this, it allowed me to lower the mirror just enough to see over the top ...just that two or three inches even made a difference.

When the agency at which I worked, tried a smaller, square mirror on several buses that was mounted mounted lower as an experiment, it felt as if thousands of pounds were immediately lifted from my shoulders when driving those coaches. What a difference it made!

After all, when I started driving buses in the 1970s, most of our fleet only had the 8" x 8" left mirrors (with no convex spot; personally, I do not need a spot on the left side) and they not only were very adequate to view but blocked very little outward vision.

So, with all that said, I disagree with your premise. I believe that if this issue is made sufficiently prominent, it may force transit agencies to spend the money to make the corrections as the ensuing lawsuits that occur when more pedestrians are killed by a left-turning bus will far exceed the cost of retrofitting their fleet. Transit agencies are now aware of the problem which makes them more vulnerable and puts them at risk. Many agencies already have taken heed and specified top-mounted left mirrors or as has previously been pointed out with the Seattle agency, gone to smaller and lower mounted left mirrors.

This will save lives. Even the best and most conscientious transit operators can have a momentary lapse where they do not adequately check above, below, and on both sides of a blocking over-sized left mirror that doesn't have to be there.

Okay, thanks for all of you kind members of this forum for allowing me to voice my concern. It is appreciated. I will now bow out. I really don't wish to get into "arguments" with any of you as I've gone hoarse voicing my concerns to transit managers and safety officers who have never driven buses in service and it's like talking to a brick wall at times. I am now in poor health and in my sunset years. I've done what I could and am now to a point where I can't possibly do any more. I just hope in the short time I have left that I never again experience that sick to my stomach feeling when I read about the driver of a left-turning transit bus killing an innocent pedestrian that appeared "out of nowhere" that they didn't see in time to avoid.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those 8 X 8 mirrors were the best. Then it seemed the buses (New Flyers) and mirrors got bigger, and the problems and headaches grew as well. The Jimmies were the best design ever...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Those 8 X 8 mirrors were the best. Then it seemed the buses (New Flyers) and mirrors got bigger, and the problems and headaches grew as well. The Jimmies were the best design ever...

Wow, I couldn't agree more, captaintrolley. You are absolutely right, the GM fishbowls were excellent, supremely so, when it came to visibility for the driver ...expansive windshield with a thin A-pillar and a simple, 8" x 8" mirror with no convex spot hanging from it anywhere. It was perfect. And you're so right, it doesn't seem like anything since can be compared.

When I started driving buses, the Jimmy fishbowls were the backbone of the fleet at the agency at which I worked (and at probably the majority of the properties in North America). One configuration in our fleet used a Detroit 8v71. At the time, that was quite an engine to be used in a transit bus. It also had a Jake brake that was not only gorgeous in its sound but exceptionally effective as well. It was a fast bus that was fun and easy to drive. Nothing since can compare to the visceral feel of driving that coach. We also had some suburban-configured fishbowls that were stick shift one-door coaches and I miss driving those terribly too.

I'd be curious as to the statistics on pedestrian fatalities that occurred when a fishbowl coach was making a left turn. I would not be surprised if the numbers were extremely low to none in those days. l do not recall feeling any stress driving those coaches in service pertaining to thinking I was missing something in a blind spot. The visibility was pretty much perfect.

Here's a good example of a GM fishbowl with a properly mounted left mirror ...look at how thin the A-pillar is compared with buses nowadays --and the signature fishbowl-windshied where the driver gets such a commanding view forward ...AND THE SIZE AND MOUNTING POSITION OF THE LEFT MIRROR!!: click here (photo courtesy of Sidney Keyles)

45-years later and the visibility factor has gotten so much worse. It doesn't make sense.

Sorry for responding again when I said I'd bow out. I'll shut up now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'd be curious as to the statistics on pedestrian fatalities that occurred when a fishbowl coach was making a left turn. I would not be surprised if the numbers were extremely low to none in those days. l do not recall feeling any stress driving those coaches in service pertaining to thinking I was missing something in a blind spot. The visibility was pretty much perfect.

I would also be willing to bet that the incident rate was lower then (with the Jimmies). As a matter of fact, a lot of everything was lower 'back in the day'. Less driver injuries, less stress leave, less driver irritability. Passengers were happier on the buses too. Maybe because they felt the driver was happier. I would even go as far as to say that there were less fights on buses, and less assaults on drivers. The whole scene has gotten worse. The Flyers are intimidating on the inside. I am not intimidated, but they are darker and gloomier, which has an affect on a person's psyche. The Jimmies were bright and airy with comfy sit-on-me seats. You boarded and there was no problem moving to the back....the whole bus was inviting. On the Low Floor Flyers, despite the accessibility feature, people rarely move past the front wheel well, and if they do, they hardly ever stand past the 'rear door alcove'. There's a lot of psychology at play here. The end of the Jimmies, was not only the end of an era, but the end of a whole transit culture.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No details as to exactly what happened but it appears this pedestrian death in the Bronx is another "left turning bus hits pedestrian in crosswalk" -type of accident with a large, almost eye-level-mounted left mirror on the coach involved.

Yes, the driver will be at fault but I still say that these types of accidents can be eliminated with the cooperation of the transit agencies by just retrofitting their coaches with smaller left mirrors and mounting them lower (or higher) so that there is a clear field of vision when a bus driver is making a left turn. Large left mirrors mounted at eye-level are completely unecessary contrary to the logic of most transit agencies.

I will never get the images out of my mind of the faces of each of the pedestrians that I almost ran over in the two incidents that I came within inches of stopping before coming in contact with them. They had such a wide-eyed expression of absolute fear on their face.

I was not an unsafe driver, either. I went almost 30-years without a preventable accident. I was very safety concious. However, in those two incidences I had, evidently I just didn't "rock-and-roll" quite enough to see those pedestrians until the very last second. The stars were aligned correctly for all on those two separate days ...not so for the poor man last night in the Bronx ...or the many more who have lost their lives when innocently crossing the street legally in a crosswalk only to be mowed down by a left turning transit bus.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While digging for more details of the previous accident, I ran into THIS ACCIDENT several weeks earlier in Philadelphia where an 8-year old boy watched his mother get mowed down and killed by a left-turning transit bus while they were crossing the street in a crosswalk. Same scenario ...this time a NFI D40LF with the large left mirror mounted at eye-level (which blocks the driver's view when turning left requiring a "rock and roll" procedure by the driver). Again, I do not know the details as to the what happened here but I again suspect the driver's field of vision being blocked while making the turn.

The tragic 2010 accident in Portland Oregon where two young ladies were killed and two others hospitalized when struck by a TriMet coach making a left turn was also a D40LF where the driver's view was blocked by the left mirror (not making excuses but, again, a left mirror does not have to be large nor mounted in a postition where it blocks the view of a driver when they make a left turn. Yes, it's the driver's responsibility to "rock and roll" but why use oversized left mirrors mounted at eye-level when it is NOT necessary when using a smaller mirror and mounting it in a lower position could eliminate the need for the driver having to rock and roll at all?). New Flyer was amongst those sued and did settle in this accident but I still say that it is the ultimate responsibility of the transit agencies to dictate the type of left mirror used and the position to mount that mirror.

Please transit agencies ...these deaths can be prevented with your help! ...get rid of those large left mirrors and mount them in a position where the driver has a clear field of vision when making a left turn! It makes a world of difference when driving a bus where your vision is not blocked by the left mirror ...I can attest to that.

ETA: ...and, have run across another one back in July of this year in Brampton Ontario. Again, a bus making a left turn with that "big" left mirror mounted in that same insidious position:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/woman-struck-killed-by-brampton-transit-bus-in-rexdale-1.2719866

.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That blind spot is no joke. I was on SamTrans 656 (1998 Gillig Phantom) this summer and I was getting ready to get off and then all of a sudden the driver made a hard stop and hit this girl (with the bike rack, which was down) that was running across the street with her friend (obviously not paying attention to the giant bus coming right in front of her.) She was very lucky that she didn't get hurt, and the driver was very worried. She just kept laughing it off and went on.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The news report linked below sums up what I'm "fighting" against. The transit agencies will ALWAYS blame the driver for this deadly "design flaw" that the left mirror poses. The following news video clip has to do with the accident in Philadelphia where a young boy watched his mother get killed by a left-turning transit bus which I mentioned in my previous post.

Most transit agencies refuse to budge on this issue. All it takes is to use a smaller left mirror and to mount it lower. In the video, SEPTA proposes going to a 12" x 8" mirror from the 15" x 8" mirror. I say this is still not enough. KCM in Seattle went to a 8" x 8" mirror --with a separate convex spot-- and mounted it slightly lower so even the shortest driver (or drivers who prefer to sit lower in the seat ...see my previous posts) can see over the top of the mirror housing without excessive "rocking and rolling." KCM in Seattle should be applauded for spending the money to retrofit their entire fleet with these smaller mirrors with the revised mounting position. Other agencies refuse to do this and continue to blame the operator because they are not "rocking and rolling" enough.

Again, here is the retrofitted left mirror on a KCM Gillig Phantom trolley coach that once had a 15" x 8" mirror mounted at eye-level similar to what SEPTA uses:

15242083549_fd16174021_s.jpg

King County Metro 2001 Gillig Phantom Trolley 4149 by zargoman, on Flickr

I'm sick and frustrated over this. Lives are at risk here. Very few are listening and digesting the logic. I keep saying to myself and will continue to for the rest of my days ..."there but for the grace of God go I" when I read about another transit operator killing an innocent pedestrian because of the two very, very close calls I had when driving transit buses when making a left turn and coming within inches of running down a pedestrian legally crossing the street.

PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO CLIP

(from this WPVI newspiece: Investigation: Left-side mirrors a deadly flaw on SEPTA buses?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That video was interesting. I had no idea that the blind spot was THAT bad. Perhaps now that they showed how bad the blind spot is, more people will get involved in trying to change the mirrors...

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

roamer, thanks for your work on this. I'm certainly convinced by the evidence you are presenting. I expect your work here will result in lives being saved. Lets all bring this up to our local transit boards and see what they say and what they are doing to minimize risk!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Applaud roamer's work for an issue I also feel strongly about.

Please note do-nothing SEPTA is replacing their mirrors with a slightly smaller mirror head but they are not moving the mounting point.

They are also taking no responsibility for spec'ing their buses with the mirror mount in that exact location.

Prediction, moving from a 15x8 mirror to a 12x8 mirror w/o also changing the mirror mount position will do nothing to improve drivers visibility.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, Detroit Diesel 6V92TA, GMC T6H-5307N, MAX BRT, and northwesterner for your comments ...but my "work" on this issue is limited to ranting and raving on various internet sites ...and a lot of whining about it before retiring from the agency for which I once worked. I haven't done anything substantial on a larger scale to further the cause of getting through to those "in charge" at transit agencies nationwide to listen and digest what the problem is and what an easy solution there is to remedy it. If I were in better health, I might make an effort to mount a nationwide campaign to bring this to the forefront ...maybe even bringing the Feds into the mix to mandate guidelines ...?

The easy way out for a transit agency is to, again, blame the driver. As I kept hitting my head against the wall when harping to the safety officers at the agency I once worked, all I kept hearing from them was something like this: "we teach you to rock-and-roll and if you have an accident after getting our instruction on the proper way to make a left turn in a transit coach, any accident you may have is entirely preventable on your part." Many of these safety officers have never driven a transit coach in service. Nonetheless, their opinions and decisions are sometimes made because they are in a position of omnipotence. To their credit and from some intervention from the ATU local (and a very dedicated individual and his team doing a lot of research and making a good presentation of their findings), the transit agency I worked at finally spent the money and retrofitted the entire fleet with smaller left mirrors mounted in a lower position. Yes, this agency also had several left turn/pedestrian accidents and in at least one instance resulted in a fatality.

Again, this is what they went to: CLICK
...when they formerly had a similar left mirror mounted in a similar position as the SEPTA coach: CLICK

Some other transit agencies have tackled the problem having spec'd their coaches to have top-mounted left mirrors which hang down to slightly above the driver's eye-level. This is probably the ideal position as far as eliminating the blind area. When I proposed this to my safety officers, they told me that top-mounted mirrors would cause a lot of accidents inside the yard when buses are parked in lanes and moved around the yard as the right and left mirror would be at the same height where they would be more susceptible to be knocked off. Poor excuse in my opinion.

And northwesterner, your points are excellent. Yes, SEPTA doesn't get it. Moving to a 3" shorter mirror if mounted in a position where it still blocks the driver's view is not accomplishing much at all. The left mirror not only needs to be smaller/shorter but mounted well below or well above a driver's eye-level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×