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The Deadly "Blind Spot" on Transit Buses

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Thanks, roamer. That takes some of my excitement away about the efforts with a warning in NYC. I expect the warning is still valuable, so that the pedestrian is more aware of the risk, but it doesn't do enough. Whats needed is to eliminate unecessary blocking of the driver's line of sight.

MAX BRT, as always, your comments are much appreciated. Thank you.

I agree that anything that can be done to reduce pedestrians getting killed or injured by turning transit buses, has to be good. I'm just not that convinced that this is the BEST way to spend money, however.

Buses that chrip or announce they are turning may save injury from that pedestrian who isn't paying attention while crossing the street. But I wonder whether is sends the wrong message to the public. My interpretation of a talking or chirping bus is: "this bus is making a turn. Pay attention and get out of the way!!!"

Is this really the impression that a transit agency wants to give?

Also, it irritates residents living in areas around bus routes. I certainly would not want to hear chirping or a recorded "bus is turning!!" late at night or early in the morning ...or for that matter, any time of day! So I can understand the complaints from residents on bus routes.

I also can understand, being a former bus operator, the annoyance of hearing that announcement or chirping every time I make a turn in a bus. It's an irritant that I certainly would not appreciate as I try to cope with all the stresses of driving a transit bus in city traffic.

So instead of demanding (or even gently reminding) pedestrians to get out of the way of a turning bus, I truly believe that money can be more wisely spent on helping the bus driver actually SEE the pedestrian crossing the street so that they aren’t required to be reminded to jump or scatter to get out of the way. This can be achieved primarily by 1) reducing the size and remounting the left mirror and 2) by purchasing buses that have as thin an A-pillar as possible.

Transit agencies cover their rear ends by telling the public "we train our drivers to rock-and-roll in the driver's seat in order to see around the left mirror and the A-pillar. It's their responsibility to abide by that and in turn, SEE any pedestrian crossing the street before starting the turn."

However, as I keep arguing, many bus drivers must make a conscious effort to do this as anything beyond a very slight and gentle "rock and roll" movement in the seat is not intuitive. If the left mirror housing is reduced in size and remounted and the A-pillar is made as thin as possible, this gives all bus drivers (not just short drivers or those who prefer to sit lower in the seat) the ability to have a wide and clear field of vision to their left side so that pedestrians crossing the street can easily be seen --even out of the driver's peripheral vision-- without excessive and exaggerated rocking and rolling in the seat.

Let's prevent pedestrians having to jump out of the way of a turning bus by helping the driver SEE them before the bus gets even close to the point where they have to be warned by an announcement or a chirping sound to get out of the way!

To me, it only proves that the people in decision-making positions at transit agencies do not really understand the problem if they continue to spend money on talking or chirping buses. It only placates the public who demand that pedestrian accidents involving buses be reduced into thinking that the agencies are making an effort to reduce these accidents. These transit agencies have even convinced the Feds to help fund this.

Once again, I beg transit agencies to:

1. reduce the size and re-mount the left mirror so it is not blocking the driver's field of vision, and

2. purchase buses from manufacturers that endeavor to reduce the thickness of the A-pillar

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Another left hand turn incident. Not many details but here the article

http://www.theprogress.com/news/288940451.html?mobile=true

I appreciate the report, captaintrolley. If you hear of any more details about this accident, could you post again or send me a PM? As you know or can probably figure out, I'm trying to compile as many details of each "left-turning transit bus hitting pedestrian" accident as I can. Thank you.

I see that it is a NovaBus LFS (?) that has the "double A-pillar" with a very thick primary pillar. It also has the 15" x 8" (or approximately 38 cm x 20.5 cm) mirror housing mounted at or just slightly below the driver's eye-level.

Sounding like a broken record: had the bus been equipped with a smaller or lower (or higher) mounted left mirror and a thinner A-pillar, would the bus driver been able to see the pedestrian in order to avoid the accident? I believe so. Could the driver have avoided the accident by overly rocking-and-rolling in the seat in order to see around the left mirror housing and A-pillar? Possibly.

The transit agencies and law enforcement can keep blaming the bus driver for NOT rocking-and-rolling enough. But if it will save lives and prevent injury, why not just retrofit a smaller left mirror and mount it in a position where the driver does not have to perform an exaggerated rock-and-roll in order to see around the mirror housing? I truly believe that it would cost less to do that compared to the money being expended as a result of the all the lawsuits that follow these accidents.

It would not only save lives of innocent pedestrians but save the careers and the life altering consequences of the bus operators who are involved in these accidents. Yes, they have the ultimate responsibility to avoid hitting pedestrians but they are not doing it on purpose nor necessarily out of extreme carelessness. The transit agencies should be doing all that is possible to help the driver avoid these accidents. Simply instructing them to rock-and-roll in the seat is obviously not working. I accept that a bus driver must rock-and-roll to a certain extent as there will always be "blind spots" or shadows but with the massive blockage that a poorly positioned and/or large left mirror combined with a thick A-pillar can create are more than drivers should be asked to compensate for by exaggerated rocking-and-rolling.

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This bus/pedestrian fatality accident appears to be another involving a left-turning bus. This happened inside the Cornell campus in Ithaca New York. I'm not yet confident of the fact that the bus was making a left turn but the description from the news reports I've been reading indicates the bus was "turning east out of the A-lot onto Jessup Road" which according to a map of the campus would indicate a left turn.

However, what strikes me about this is (if in fact the bus was making a left turn), once again, the bus --a Gillig Advantage-- has the hideous 15" x 8" left mirror mounted at around eye-level of the driver (not sure why the photos show the mirror askew, however) which, again, blocks the vision of the driver when making a left turn requiring an extreme and exaggerated rock-and-roll maneuver in the driver's seat in order to see around the obstructing mirror housing and A-pillar.

http://www.ithacajournal.com/story/news/local/2015/01/26/jessup-road-accident/22340011/

.

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I noticed on one of the news feeds in which I subscribe that a Michigan lawyer, Steven Gursten, featured this CPTDB thread on his blog yesterday:

Scary secret from a bus driver: The deadly blind spot on transit buses

I really appreciated his comment which was part of the article (I urge everybody to read the full article, however):

One comment: This bus driver said his safety department managers insisted drivers “bear the responsibility for making absolutely sure that there are no pedestrians crossing the street before making a turn,” by rocking and rolling 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.” While it’s true drivers are responsible for steering clear of pedestrians, it is the bus companies that have a legal duty to hire, train and supervise these drivers. I’ve written often on the pages of this legal blog about how lawyers often miss this. They focus only on the role of the driver, and not on the company. But it’s the company that must do everything they can to properly train their drivers and provide them with the proper equipment to drive safely. Simply telling bus drivers to “rock and roll” in the seat made me wince. It is not enough.

He certainly understands the problem. I am thrilled to read his comments. The transit agencies and law enforcement continually blame and focus on the driver for these left-turn-pedestrian accidents. As so succinctly stated by attorney Gursten, I still believe that the transit agencies have the obligation to provide the driver with proper equipment to drive safely!!!!

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PERIPHERAL VISION:

As I go back and research and catalog as many left-turning bus-pedestrian accidents as I can, I ran across THIS ONE that happened on the UConn campus back in 2011. It caught my attention as the mother of the victim has recently demanded changes and contends that the school has not done enough to improve pedestrian safety (click).

UConn use students at the school for drivers. Critics have argued against this practice. The driver involved in the fatality accident was 21 at the time, the same age as most municipal transit agencies set as a minimum age. I understand, however, that UConn's age requirement to drive a bus is 18. I don’t believe this accident had anything to do with the age or experience of the driver.

The reason I bring this particular accident to light at this time is if you look at the photo of the bus in the background, you can clearly see that it has one of those 15" x 8" mirrors mounted at about eye-level of the driver.

Again, had the bus not had a left mirror housing that could have been blocking the driver's view to the left, would he have been able to see the pedestrian crossing the street even out of his peripheral vision in order to stop in time to have avoided contact? I say yes. It was reported that he was waving at another passing bus but even so, he should have been able to see the pedestrian even out of his peripheral vision had his view not been blocked by the left-mirror housing. Waving at other bus drivers is a routine maneuver that most do dozens of times a day which shouldn't have posed a substantial distraction.

Officials investigating this accident as well as the University itself probably have no inclination as to the reasons the driver did not see the pedestrian other than assuming he was distracted because of waving at a co-worker. I doubt if they or even the driver himself realize that his vision could have been obstructed by the left mirror housing.

Waving at another driver is being called the "cause" but, again, a normal person should be able to do that and still drive safely. It's being done routinely by thousands of bus drivers a day ...I used to wave at every bus I crossed paths with during a shift without taking my attention away from crucial functions. Did waving at another driver prevent him from remembering to rock-and-roll? ...possibly but, again, if the left mirror housing hadn't been blocking his view, I have to believe that he would have been able to see the pedestrian --if even using his peripheral vision-- in order to have yielded to the pedestrian or at least stopped before making contact.

ETA: I didn't mention that the driver had a restriction on his license requiring corrective lenses. He reportedly was not wearing eye glasses at the time of the accident but he was not examined to determine if he was wearing contact lenses. I discounted this as playing into the mix because in my opinion, I have to believe that most people who can't pass the vision requirement for a driver's license will be using contact lenses if not eye glasses as most would find it difficult to drive at all in periods dusk or darkness without corrective lenses.


Get rid of those large (15" x 8") mirrors and mount the mirror in a position that does not block the view of the driver seeing things (pedestrians) out of the forward portion of the left window ...don't force the driver to have to consciously do an exaggerated rock-and-roll. It will save lives!!


(I apologize for continually editorializing. I appreciate that both the administrators of this forum and all the members here have, so far, allowed me to do so. I do it in hopes that perhaps somebody in authority at even one transit agency that uses left mirrors which block the vision of the driver, will read this thread, comprehend the issue, and act upon it. Because of the years of experience in the driver’s seat of a bus and having the close calls I had, I’m certain it will save lives …even if it saves one life, wouldn’t it be worth it?)

uconn bus left mirror.jpg

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I noticed on one of the news feeds in which I subscribe that a Michigan lawyer, Steven Gursten, featured this CPTDB thread on his blog yesterday:

Scary secret from a bus driver: The deadly blind spot on transit buses

I really appreciated his comment which was part of the article (I urge everybody to read the full article, however):

He certainly understands the problem. I am thrilled to read his comments. The transit agencies and law enforcement continually blame and focus on the driver for these left-turn-pedestrian accidents. As so succinctly stated by attorney Gursten, I still believe that the transit agencies have the obligation to provide the driver with proper equipment to drive safely!!!!

Day-um! Way to go roamer! You and this blog are getting the word out. I am convinced that people are taking note of the problem and you are making a difference.

The images at the bottom of the lawyer's blog post are very helpful for illustrating the driver's point of view and what you are talking about!

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I agree. Pretty impressive for posts on this forum to get picked up in the blogosphere, in relation to bus versus pedestrian accidents.

I always knew visibility in regards to left turn and mirrors was a huge problem, but didn't realize what an epidemic it has become nationally until Roamer started documenting this incidents here.

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Once again, thanks for the comments, MAX BRT and northwesterner.

Yes, I'm wondering if somebody else is keeping track of these accidents involving pedestrians and left-turning transit buses besides myself as it seems quite pervasive here in the U.S. and Canada. They are happening at an alarming rate. It's too bad for as I keep saying, I'm positive they can be reduced by just re-configuring the left mirror. The majority of the transit agencies in the U.S. and Canada do not seem to understand, however.

...AND HERE IT IS AGAIN:

Yesterday evening in Redondo Beach California, a LADOT commuter bus making a left turn kills a pedestrian that is crossing the street in a crosswalk. This time the bus is a MCI (as was the one in San Francisco several months ago that was making a left turn which killed a jogger) but still using a large left-mirror mounted near eye level ...as are most on MCI 's.

http://ktla.com/2015/02/04/bus-crash-involving-pedestrians-shuts-down-in-redondo-beach-intersection/

Images of LADOT MCIs where we can see the left mirror is mounted at or around the driver's eye level: click and click

Again, why didn't the bus driver see the pedestrians (a couple in their 70s) crossing the street? Was his/her vision being blocked by the left mirror housing? I have to believe that the mirror housing played a role in the driver not being able to see the pedestrians. Many of the victims of these left-turning-bus accident seem to be women or elderly folks who may be shorter in stature (just an assumption on my part as both my close calls involved shorter women) which makes being able to SEE clearly when making a left turn in a bus even more important.

Again I ask: Why does the left mirror have to be mounted at or near the driver's eye level? It doesn't !!! Why does the left mirror have to be any larger than 8" x 8" ? It doesn't !!!

A large (15" x 8") may be fine to use if top mounted so the driver has to glance slightly upward when looking in the mirror. Many buses in Europe have used top-mounted mirrors for decades. Many smart transit agencies (such as Vancouver Washington's CTRAN and Everett Washington's Everett Transit) are now specifying top-mounted left mirrors. Why can't more transit agencies use a top-mounted configuration? So what if it takes the drivers a bit of time to get accustomed to looking slightly upward to look out of the mirror? ....they look slightly upward to view the right mirror, right?

Or, as KCM in Seattle has done, use a smaller left mirror and mount it substantially lower than eye-level.

Either way, move it out of the area where it can obstruct the view of the driver when making a left turn!!!

ETA: attached is an image from the KTLA video that shows the position of left mirror. It may not be as important on how the left mirror is mounted if the MCI is in intercity service as a Greyhound might be but it should especially be a point of focus when a bus is used in commuter service in heavier traffic where turns are being made more often than if the coach is traveling on the interstate for hours at a time.

Elderly Couple Trapped Under Bus After Being Struck in Crosswalk in Redondo Beach; One Dead - KTLA 2015-02-05 12-41-11.png

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Thank you, Greg! I missed that one. Please contact me or post again if you see any further information on this accident. Thankfully the pedestrian survived. Nonetheless, a bus should obviously not be coming into physical contact at all with a pedestrian.

Yes, that is exactly the example of the 15" x 8" left mirror used by so many transit agencies. Rosco makes one that is a very popular specification used by transit agencies when ordering new buses whether it be from New Flyer or any other manufacturer (click). As I mentioned previously, when talking with a New Flyer rep, he told me that it is entirely up to the transit agency ordering a bus what mirrors they want to use.

I wonder if both Rosco and New Flyer have given further thought to this issue as both were named in the lawsuit brought by David Sale, (father of Danielle Sale who was one of the victims) involving the Portland Oregon tragedy in 2010 where two were killed by a left-turning TriMet bus being driven by Sandi Day (click). I'm not certain, however, if the 15" x 8" mirror was being used by Trimet at the time but nonetheless Sandi Day has said that her vision was obstructed by the left-mirror and was the reason she didn't see the pedestrians crossing the street.

As an anecdote, I'd like to again point out in testimony pertaining to that lawsuit noted above, my frustration at TriMet when their Executive Director of Operations, Shelly Lomax (a former bus operator herself) testified when asked questions regarding whether the left mirror played a role in the TriMet tragedy (see page 64 of the brief linked in the PDF above, or again here):

Question: Did you ever approach any superior and say to them, words to the effect of, there's some issues with these -- this mirror location and it could be moved, we should take a serious look at whether that's the right thing to do?"

Shelly Lomax's answer: "The answer is no."

Question: "Why didn't you ever do that?"

Shelly Lomax's answer: "Because I don't think that the mirror is an issue."

QED: Transit agency managers do NOT understand nor comprehend how much a left mirror plays in blocking the vision of the driver. Even when their own driver, Sandi Day, contended that she didn't see the pedestrians because of her view being blocked by the left mirror (and A-pillar).

Again, I repeat what Mr. Gursten, a Michigan lawyer, has stated in his blog, " transit agencies have the obligation to provide the driver with proper equipment to drive safely!!!!

.

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Again, today, a Montreal STM bus making a left turn strikes a female pedestrian in a crosswalk and wedges her under the bus. She is alive but in critical condition.

Bus appears to be a Nova with the infamous 8" x 15" left mirror (and a thick A-pillar) ...see imaged attached captured from a CTV news video.

Link: Bus strikes woman on St. Denis, injury deemed severe

When will it end?

I still say that these left-turning-bus accidents can be essentially eliminated or at least substantially reduced by doing two things ...getting the left mirror housing out of the way so it will not block the driver's view when making a left turn and reducing the thickness of the left-side A-pillars.

Instructing drivers to "rock and roll" in the seat is obviously not reducing the frequency of these left-turning-bus-pedestrian accidents.

Again, even the most careful drivers (myself as an example ...as well as the veteran driver in San Francisco who had 35-years of safe driving that killed the pedestrian jogging a few months ago when he was making a left turn) can have these types of accidents or as in my case, close calls, because they evidently are not rocking-and-rolling enough in the seat. Remember, exaggerated and excessive rocking-and-rolling is not necessary if the left mirror housing is not blocking a driver's view.

.

Bus strikes woman on St. Denis, injury deemed severe - CTV Montreal News 2015-02-12 15-15-30.png

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From a news feed I just received, sadly, the lady who was wedged under the bus this afternoon in Montreal has died from her injuries.

I wish transit agencies would get the clue.

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And yet another one yesterday...

Again a MTA bus in Brooklyn New York making a left turn hits a 15-year old girl legally crossing the street in a crosswalk with a walk-signal and pins her leg under the bus. It appears she suffered non-life-threatening injuries but may lose her leg.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/girl-15-pinned-wheel-brooklyn-city-bus-article-1.2114179

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/MTA-Bus-Hit-Girl-15-Street-Williamsburg-Brooklyn-Accident-Police-291847341.html

I'd like to point out, this was a veteran bus driver with 29-years of experience with an impeccable record. The bus is an Orion VII with the 15" x 8" left mirror mounted slightly below driver's eye level but again in a position that would still block vision when making a left turn.

As happened in the previous left-turn MTA bus accident a few months ago that resulted in a fatality, the driver was arrested. In my opinion (as everybody is now well aware of my feelings on this topic) the manager at MTA who is in charge of safety should be arrested for allowing "faulty equipment" to be driven on the streets ...and as Michigan attorney Steven Gursten has stated in his blog pertaining to where blame is put for these accidents: "They focus only on the role of the driver, and not on the company. But it’s the company that must do everything they can to properly train their drivers and provide them with the proper equipment to drive safely. Simply telling bus drivers to “rock and roll” in the seat made me wince. It is not enough."

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Pertaining to the aforementioned accident, I got quite upset reading this article by Pete Donohue from the NY Daily News about the bus driver involved in the latest MTA pedestrian accident. I am grateful and appreciative of Mr. Donohue's perspective on this incident.

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/mta-bus-driver-cuffed-thug-brooklyn-accident-article-1.2116786

As I've written multiple times in this thread "there but for the grace of god go i" and can't help but empathize with the bus operator, Mr. de Jesus. I can't imagine being treated as such ...cuffed, jailed, and otherwise treated as a common criminal just as a suspected drug dealer or rapist would be.

Mr. de Jesus did not do this on purpose, or with malice. He wasn't impaired nor driving in a manner that indicated extreme recklessness. He was a veteran driver of 29 years and had an impeccable record. He simply said that he "didn't see the pedestrian." Why was he unable to see the pedestrian given what was just said? In all likelihood because of his vision and view to the left being blocked by the left mirror housing and the A-pillar. Yes, I don't know that for sure but being the driver's seat and having the close calls I did, I can pretty much guess it was.

...just as Sandi Day told me that she "just didn't see the pedestrians" pertaining to when she "mowed down"* two young women that fateful night in Portland Oregon several years ago. She blames it on the left mirror and A-pillar for those pedestrians being hidden from view. Even though she was rocking-and-rolling but because of her short stature and weight (her own defense), it wasn't quite enough to compensate for the vision-blocking left mirror housing. Would Sandi been able to see the pedestrians if the left mirror was smaller and/or mounted in a position that wasn't blocking her view in the first place? I say yes.

(* I've noticed that "mowed down" is a term used by the press in many of these left-turning-bus-pedestrian accidents, including Sandi Day's. Although it may be accurate in its description, as Mr. Donohue points out, it suggests callous intent and I surmise it's being used more for drama than just pure accuracy)

As I continue to compile rudimentary statistics on left-turning-bus-pedestrian accidents, as was mentioned previously, many of the victims have been women. Excuse the generalization but women are usually shorter in stature than men and therefore are definitely more susceptible to be hidden from view in a situation where the left mirror housing is blocking the driver's view. In my close calls --both women-- had the pedestrian been 6 feet or more in height, I would have detected the top of their head over the mirror housing long before almost (in my case) coming in contact with them.

So the combination of a bus driver who is short in stature AND/OR chooses to sit lower in the seat and the pedestrian being short in stature is the mix where these accident are more likely to occur.

BUT AGAIN, if the left mirror was located in a position where it was not blocking the field of vision for even the shortest driver, in most of these cases, the operator would be able to see even the shortest pedestrian without making exaggerated rock-and-roll motions ...or even, as has been described by some operators, having to stand up out of the seat in order to see over the left mirror housing.

Most transit agencies refuse to budge on spending money to reconfigure the left mirror. The bus manufacturers refuse to research ways on reducing the thickness of the bus A-pillar. Transit agencies, law enforcement investigators, and most lawyers continue to BLAME THE BUS OPERATOR FOR BEING CARELESS BECAUSE THEY NOT ROCKING AND ROLLING ENOUGH IN THE SEAT to compensate for the left mirror housing blocking the field of vision --when it doesn't have to be blocking the driver's field of vision!!!

If the bus operator is going to arrested and put in handcuffs, so should the manager or managers at the MTA who are in charge of making safety related decisions for not doing everything they can to provide operators with the proper equipment to drive safely.

(I again thank the Administrators of this forum for allowing me to continue editorializing my agenda on this forum. I appreciate it and it’s my hope that someday because if it, a few more transit agency managers may get “the clue.” Thank you.)

ETA: I understand my expressing the opinion that transit managers also be put in handcuffs isn't helping my cause. I say it out of frustration because the solution is so simple. Perhaps some blame should be put on the TWU and ATU locals in the U.S. and Canada for not putting more pressure on the agencies to address this problem. As I've said before, most transit managers do not seem to comprehend it ...I'm obviously not saying that they do not have the intelligence to understand but since most have never driven a bus, they do not have the practical experience of spending hours in the seat dealing with heavy traffic and congested streets while making hundreds of left turns month in and month out. Since I don't wish to offend anybody, I apologize if anything I say here is disrespectful. My only goal is to see that innocent pedestrians are not killed and bus drivers do not have to go through the turmoil and agony of contributing to these deaths and injuries. Thank you.

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Here's an interesting article on a left-turning-bus-pedestrian fatality accident in San Francisco in 2011 that was published today by CBS San Francisco:

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/03/02/muni-driver-acquitted-in-2011-crash-that-killed-23-year-old-woman-in-san-francisco-crosswalk/

The jury in this case acquitted the driver and felt that the transit agency (San Francisco MTA or Muni) could have done more to prevent the death of the pedestrian. The bus driver's attorney cited a federal report published in 2008 outlining specific safety suggestions for transit agencies nationwide to move the left side mirror amongst other things. As with the majority of the north American transit agencies, SFMTA did not heed the advice. Obviously, neither did TriMet in Portland for as I've pointed out previously, TriMet's Operations Manager, Shelly Lomax, has said that she doesn't think that "the mirror is an issue." Yet Trimet had fatality left-turning bus accidents in 2007 and 2010 where both drivers said that they didn’t SEE the pedestrians because of the left mirror and A-pillar.

Again, most transit agency managers have the same attitude as TriMet. It's much easier to put all the blame on the driver than to take responsibility and spend the money to retrofit the left mirror.

Kudos to those transit agencies that have taken steps to address the left mirror issue. Many have. The majority haven't. Left turn bus pedestrian accidents continue to happen at an alarming rate. KCM in Seattle started to change their left mirror configuration in 2005 and I don't believe they've had a left turning bus pedestrian fatality since.

Added for emphasis:

"How many people do you have to kill before you change the construction of your bus?"

...was the question asked by the attorney for the bus driver pertaining to the accident mentioned in the article above.

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This fatality accident that happened this afternoon in Dos Palos, California involved a tour bus. I have no idea what type of bus it was as there are no photos provided. The reason I mention it is that from the description it is a left-turning bus that hit a pedestrian in a crosswalk and the driver was reported not to be impaired nor distracted.

http://www.mercedsunstar.com/news/local/article12348383.html#/tabPane=tabs-b0710947-1-1

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I just wanted to add an update to the story above:

In THIS NEWS REPORT VIDEO, we can see the bus leaving the scene after the investigation. It appears to be an MCI E4500 from Best Tour and Travel, Fresno California. What I'd like to point out is the position of the left mirror. It is in the "perfect" position to block the driver's view when making a left turn …directly at eye-level. The driver is reported to have said that he didn't SEE the pedestrian as he was making the left turn.

Take a look at the attached photo of their MCI coaches and make note the position and location of the left mirror. As I mentioned in a previous post, MCI and other over-the-road coaches commonly have their left mirrors mounted in a position which blocks the driver's view but because they are mostly used in more highway driving situations and not in the congested city traffic that urban public transit buses are more typically used, they may not be as susceptible to left-turn pedestrian accidents. However, as we have seen in the documentation in this thread, there have been MCI coaches used by municipal transit agencies that have been involved in left-turn-pedestrian accidents too. Now we have a tour bus involved with the dreaded fatality mishap because the driver did not SEE the pedestrian.

MCI and other OTR coaches where the driver sits up higher, I believe, are more prone to hiding a pedestrian crossing the street (especially a shorter pedestrian) behind the left mirror housing when it is mounted at the eye-level of the driver.

As typical, the pedestrian killed was a female. This is truly a sad story ...as are all. She didn't have to die this way and neither did all the others who were innocently and legally crossing the street only to be mowed down by a bus because the driver did not SEE them.

These accidents can be prevented if the driver's vision is not blocked when making a left turn. Yes, the driver will be "at fault" and found guilty of not compensating for the blockage of vision because he was not rocking-and-rolling in the seat to a degree where he could see around the mirror housing. However, if the mirror was mounted in a position that the driver didn't have to do an excessive and exaggerated rock-and-roll movement, MANY OF THESE LEFT-TURNING BUS-PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENTS COULD BE AVOIDED. But transit agencies, bus companies, and law enforcement will continue to put all the blame on the driver ...it's the easy way out.

best.jpg

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Not directly related to the topic at hand but thought you might be interested in this as well:

http://www.metro-magazine.com/blogpost/293631/caution-when-passing-other-buses-in-the-zone

Not only buses passing other buses, but vehicles passing a stopped bus (whether in a transit zone or crosswalk). The bus is stopped for a reason, so the driver of any passing vehicle must be alert to the appearance of a sudden pedestrian. The driver of the stopped bus can watch traffic approaching in his driver side mirror and can stick his arm out the window and do the frantic wave.

Also, pedestrians should be educated to never cross in front of a bus. However, judging from what I have seen of the general populace of bus riders / pedestrians, that is not likely to happen soon.

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Yes, thanks much for bringing that up, A. Wong. And excellent comments as usual, captain trolley!

Even though I'd like to keep the focus of this thread to left-turning-bus-pedestrian accidents, I think it is worth mentioning this particular phenomenon too. It's something that all bus drivers I'm sure are concerned with and have witnessed accidents or close calls when pedestrians walk in front of the bus after alighting the same bus.

I frequently observed middle school and high school students when leaving the bus, immediately walk directly in front of the bus to cross the street. I'm sure they do this because it's what they are accustomed to doing when riding school buses where school buses will stop traffic to allow kids to cross in front of the bus to the opposite side of the street. Of course, motorists are required by law to stop for these students when the school bus has its flashing red lights activated and its stop paddle extended.

However, a public transit bus has no ability whatsoever to stop traffic nor is it legal for a pedestrian to cross in front of a transit bus as there is usually no crosswalk as bus stops/zones are rarely at the immediate nearside of an intersection. Motorists are not required to stop for such a pedestrian crossing in front of a public transit bus that is stopped in a bus zone which is usually in the middle of a block or at the far-side of an intersection (however, there was a supposed close call in Portland Oregon not long ago that happened at a nearside bus zone ...I'm one who vehemently disagrees placing a near-side bus zone such as this one --click here for the video).

I had countless teens (middle and high school -aged) run directly in front of the bus immediately after de-boarding and out into traffic; much of the time not even checking if a vehicle was approaching along the side of the bus (which they can't see until they clear the front of the bus). It was just by luck that none of those students got hit. I witnessed many close calls, however. Luckily, there was either no traffic approaching at the time or if there was a vehicle passing the bus, they were able to come to a screeching halt before hitting the wayward student darting out in front of the bus. Again, the motorist has no reason to suspect that somebody will be coming out from in front of a public transit bus. There are a few adults who ride buses who know not to do such a thing and will wait for the bus to move and continue on its way before crossing the street (still jaywalking but much safer as they now have a clear view of traffic that isn't blocked by the sitting bus). Furthermore, if you are driving your personal vehicle alongside of a public transit bus that is stopped in a bus zone, you are not expecting a pedestrian to suddenly come blindly walking out in front of the bus you are passing.

I've yelled and screamed at some kids (mostly the ones who didn't even look before running out from in front of the bus) but they didn't seem to realize what I was talking about as some even yelled obscenities in return or flipped me off. I wasn't angry about not being able to move the bus because they were waiting in front of it until traffic cleared (those who didn't just run out into traffic without looking), but rather concerned about their safety. It's an EXTREMELY unsafe maneuver for a pedestrian to do. I cringed and had the feeling of just sheer helplessness whenever it would happen.

Here's an example of such an accident where a high school senior who unfortunately died of her injuries in Michigan a few months ago:

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2014/11/kentwood_woman_18_dies_a_day_a.html#incart_river

Parents and teachers/administrators at the schools should remind students using public transportation to not cross in front of a transit bus and wait until the bus has left to cross the street (or better yet, walk to the nearest crosswalk or intersection to cross the street) . Again, it should be emphasized that a public bus is NOT a school bus that can stop traffic for them. I once tried to approach school districts in my local area but they didn't seem to grasp what I was referring to or talking about.

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I once tried to approach school districts in my local area but they didn't seem to grasp what I was referring to or talking about.

Unfortunate, but that doesn't surprise me. I still think there is room to put this in the curriculum. We had a class called 'PL' Perspectives for Living. My son had a class called CALM (Career and Life Management). These weekly classes that just teach you about life and living. Stick this type of info in there. I'm sure they dedicate a few classes to drinking and distracted driving etc.

And when people learn to drive. Learn that a bus is stopped for a reason. My friend hated when he would be stopped for a pedestrian in the crosswalk, but the car approaching the crosswalk on his left side just kept right on going. The bus is stopped for a reason !!! Wake up people, this is not rocket science but plain old common sense. Sheesh..

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And another MTA left-turning bus striking a pedestrian crossing the street in a crosswalk in NYC. Fortunately, it sounds as if she, the pedestrian, survived ...again, a female pedestian getting run over by an MCI coach making a left turn.

http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150324/midtown-east/woman-hit-by-bus-midtown-witnesses-officials-say

It appears to be an MCI (click here)

Interestingly, when I brought up the intersection on Google Street View, coincidentlally, an MTA MCI is picutred making that exact left turn (image capture Aug 2013): Click here

.

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In THIS NEWS REPORT VIDEO, we can see the bus leaving the scene after the investigation. It appears to be an MCI E4500 from Best Tour and Travel, Fresno California. What I'd like to point out is the position of the left mirror. It is in the "perfect" position to block the driver's view when making a left turn …directly at eye-level. The driver is reported to have said that he didn't SEE the pedestrian as he was making the left turn.

MCI E and J model coaches are the worst over the road coaches for driver's visibility. Not only is the left mirror mounted at eye height, but it combines with a big A-pillar, the sliding window sill (at my eye heights when I sit) and a driver's dashboard that feels like the Great Wall of China.

If I owned a charter bus company, I would not buy a J4500 (despite its durability) due to the mirror mounting position. My liability would be too great in a situation like this ... one I feel is not avoidable due to the design of the coach.

Many private carriers will not change the mirrors out from the "as delivered" design because they are worried about taking on liability in a lawsuit from changing OEM equipment. I call a bunch of B*S* on this, because the OEM design is so poor a lawsuit is guaranteed to happen. Only the best attorney will be able to nail the manufacturer on their design choice... Better to change it out and reduce the risk of the accident in the first place...

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Yeah, excellent comments, northwesterner. I've never driven a J4500 but remember sitting in the driver's seat in one once and recall asking myself, "how can anyone drive these things???" (as it pertained to all the blockages to vision). I sit lower in the seat and I too found it distracting and view-blocking having that diagonal bar at eye level above the driver's sliding window. But I had to remind myself that these coaches are mostly used on highway or OTR conditions and aren't used the way an urban transit bus might be making left turns in congested areas multiple times a day.

Nevertheless, northwesterner is correct. Even private carriers should also be focusing on the visibility issue as it can still present a horrible liability case when somebody gets killed because their driver didn't SEE the pedestrian because of multiple blockages that preventing them from being able to SEE somebody crossing the street.

New Flyer was named in the suit brought by the families of the deceased in the TriMet accident but I don't know the details as to NFI's supposed liability in that accident. I understand that bus manufacturers such as New Flyer, Gillig, etc. will accommodate the buyer's desire as to what left mirror they want to use and where it should be mounted.

Now that we are seeing more pedestrian fatalities involving left-turning MCI coaches, perhaps it will prompt some examination as to left mirror size and mounting location, A-pillar width, the diagonal bar on the driver's window, and all the extraneous stuff mounted on the left side of the driver's compartment that block vision to the left.

For those who may be curious as to the references being made here pertaining to the J4500, here are some photos from a bus sales site:

behind driver's compartment where diagonal bar window sill can be seen

diagonal bar window sill at eye height (if sitting lower in the seat)

behind driver's compartment showing left mirror height and back-up camera monitor mounted on A-pillar

close up of back-up camera monitor mounted on A-pillar

"Great Wall of China" instrument panel

Again, imagine sitting in the driver's seat at various height levels and you can see where these obstructions can block your view of SEEING possible pedestrians while making a left turn depending on the road-angle the bus may be positioned.

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