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The Deadly "Blind Spot" on Transit Buses


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Those elephant mirrors look so ugly. Wonder how prone they are are to getting broken due to how far forward they stick out?  Reading the ETS tender they ware pretty specific on the distance the mirrors can stick out.

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1 hour ago, awstott said:

Those elephant mirrors look so ugly. Wonder how prone they are are to getting broken due to how far forward they stick out?  Reading the ETS tender they ware pretty specific on the distance the mirrors can stick out.

I know they are ugly, however if something like this (maybe not sticking out so far) will reduce the blind spot, then perhaps it will still be a good trade off.

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I did suggest both types of top-down mounted mirror configurations to our safety department and they shot both ideas down quickly as they contended that they'd be a nuisance when maneuvering buses inside the yards.  

1.  Top-down mounted to the side--  the safety officer countered that suggestion arguing that since they'd be mounted at  approximately the same height as the right mirror, that accidents would occur when buses are driven down and in/out of the parking lanes inside the yard when mirror housings of one bus would make contact with the opposite mirror housing of the bus parked in the adjacent lane.  This configuration is used by several transit agencies with no reports that I know of that suggest mirror-to-mirror contact is a widespread problem in the yard.  

2.  Top-down mounted to the front (many school buses, charter buses, European buses, and motorhomes use this style ...and what captaintrolley has suggested as shown in the image provided where the driver views the mirror through the windshield instead of the driver window--  Again, the safety officer was overly concerned about the accidents that would happen when parking and maneuvering buses in the yard.  They also brought up the circumstance of our agency's use of special service for football games and other special events when buses are required to be parked bumper-to-bumper.  I questioned whether the forward-mounted mirror would prevent a bus from being parked to the bumper of the bus ahead without striking the rear of the bus ahead but the idea was nixed as it being too susceptible to having mirror and other body damage in that scenario.  

Also, a top-down mounted configuration may still create a blind area when making a left turn depending on the angle of the coach and the roadway (i.e., a steep downhill grade may block seeing pedestrians when turning left, etc.).

Personally, I still believe that a very low mounted left mirror viewed from the side is the better solution.  

And yes, we were always taught to keep the mirror arm adjusted so to keep the mirror housing as close to the body of the coach as possible.  Most/many mirror arms are able to be swiveled and the mirror head pivoted so as to make the mirror housing itself extend as little as possible beyond the side of the coach.  

tomsbuspage:  Yes, that mirror configuration is actually similar to what was on some of the buses when I started driving transit coaches in the mid-1970s.  The agency I worked at was just starting to retrofit their old-look GM coaches with 8" x 8" square mirrors mounted lower from a small rectangular mirror at above-eye-level position such as this one:

IMG_5596.jpg   photo courtesy of Sidney Keyles

I didn't object at all to looking upward to view the left mirror. 

Our fish-bowl GM coaches had left mirrors mounted in a similar position as this one only turned in an upward position  ...I prefer this one in the illustration below the best, however, to all other options:

IMG_5592.jpg   courtesy of Sidney Keyles

 

Good points, no matter.  Thanks for all the comments! 

 

 

 

 

Transit agencies always pin the blame on bus drivers for design flaws

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A female pedestrian was struck and critically injured in Cleveland this morning by a left-turning RTA 2015 Gillig BRT.  I'm not certain what kind of left mirror is used on that particular bus.  

Woman in critical condition after being hit by RTA bus in Public Square

Pedestrian Struck by RTA Bus Turning Left Around Public Square; Victim in Critical Condition

 

 

 

 

Update 12-29-2016:  Unfortunately, the woman hit by the RTA bus has died.

Woman hit by RTA bus in Public Square in Cleveland dies

 

 

 

 

Transit agencies always pin the blame on bus drivers for design flaws

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  • 5 weeks later...

A Google-contracted shuttle bus making a left turn in Saratoga California (San Jose area) kills a woman crossing the street in a marked intersection on Tuesday evening.  The coach on the same route the next day appears to be a Van Hool (?) that appears to have a large left mirror mounted at driver's eye-height.  

Google Bus Driver Hits And Kills Pedestrian In Saratoga

Tech Bus that Killed SJ Woman Contracted by Google

 

 

 

 

 

Transit agencies always pin the blame on bus drivers for design flaws

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On 1/6/2017 at 5:28 PM, captaintrolley said:

Wow. Unbelievable. Just no end to the carnage. :(

I know.  I'm positive that spending that $300 per bus would cut the death rate substantially to a point where it could be almost eliminated  ...sure, not entirely but almost. 

 

 

 

 

 

Transit agencies always pin the blame on bus drivers for design flaws

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A pedestrian was killed in Houston on Tuesday January 10th by a left-turning Metro MCI coach that has a large left mirror mounted at driver eye-level.  The CEO claims the accident was PREVENTABLE.  Yes, obviously the female driver will be charged with a preventable accident and more.  But could the transit agency have done anything to prevent the accident?  I'm sure the CEO doesn't think so.

METRO bus hits, kills pedestrian in downtown Houston

Michael Unfried Killed in Houston Metro Bus Accident

 

 

 

 

 

Transit agencies always pin the blame on bus drivers for design flaws

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On 12/1/2016 at 6:58 PM, awstott said:

Those elephant mirrors look so ugly. Wonder how prone they are are to getting broken due to how far forward they stick out?  Reading the ETS tender they ware pretty specific on the distance the mirrors can stick out.

This 2006 Gillig has high mount mirrors. These don't stick out really far. Transit systems should switch to these as they really do get rid of blind spots.

Lane_Transit_District_6218-a.jpg

(Not my photo)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Edmonton:

http://atu569.serveftp.com/testing-of-new-mirrors-on-buses/

 


Over the next couple of months, the City will be testing two new types of mirrors which are to be installed on the driver’s side of two different buses.

One mirror being tested is a High Mount Mirror which will be installed high up on the driver’s side.

The second mirror being tested is a Low Mount Mirror which is a smaller mirror and will be mounted lower on the driver’s side.

The Union fully supports the testing of these two mirrors and is asking all operators who drive these buses to voice their opinions as to the safety and visibility of the mirrors.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Left-turning MCI tour bus in Honolulu hits and kills a pedestrian crossing the street in a marked crosswalk.  Driver said he did not see her which is a more than familiar reply that comes from just about all drivers involved in these left-turn-pedestrian accidents.  MCI coach involved has a large left mirror mounted at driver eye-height level. 

Pedestrian, 65, dies after struck by tour bus near Ala Moana

Tour bus fatally strikes 65-year-old woman on her birthday

 

 

 

 

Transit agencies always pin the blame on bus drivers for design flaws

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On 2/23/2017 at 8:32 PM, roamer said:

Left-turning MCI tour bus in Honolulu hits and kills a pedestrian crossing the street in a marked crosswalk.  Driver said he did not see her which is a more than familiar reply that comes from just about all drivers involved in these left-turn-pedestrian accidents.  MCI coach involved has a large left mirror mounted at driver eye-height level. 

Pedestrian, 65, dies after struck by tour bus near Ala Moana

Tour bus fatally strikes 65-year-old woman on her birthday

 

 

 

 

Transit agencies always pin the blame on bus drivers for design flaws

It so sad to read the stories about the victims and their families of these left-turning-bus accidents.  It's not the first where I've felt it so heart-wrenching reading about the victim and their family.  The frequency of these accidents really has to be reduced.  

Sure, the bus driver will be blamed, cited, fired, and. held legally responsible for these deaths.  Even the best drivers can be susceptible to these left-turn accidents because of the size and mounting position of the left mirror housing and the thickness of the left A-pillar.  Like so many others involved in these left-turn-pedestrian accidents, the driver in this case had a blemish-free record, held a CDL since 1984 and was extremely distressed by the accident.

I can personally attest to the fact that pedestrians can be hidden from view of the driver under the circumstances "when all stars align" scenario  ...bus is moving, pedestrian is moving, angle of turn, speed of movement of both bus and pedestrian, etc.  --when all things coincide "perfectly," even a highly conscientious driver who is "bobbing and weaving" and "rocking and rolling" in the driver's seat CAN completely miss seeing the pedestrian crossing the street during a left turn.

As is pointed out in the link I post at the bottom of my posts, it takes about $300 to retrofit a bus so the left mirror housing does not block so much of the driver's vision when making a left turn.  That alone would at least cut in half the possibility not seeing a pedestrian crossing the street when making a left turn.  Having bus manufacturers reduce the thickness of the A-pillar would further reduce the obstruction.  

But Nooooooooooooo, the managers of bus companies and transit agencies would rather sit on the fat asses and put the ENTIRE blame on the driver.  It is so much easier to do that than to do the right thing.

The family of the victim in the Honolulu accident believe that "this is a tragedy that could have been prevented."  OF COURSE it could have been prevented but NOT for the reason they give.  The driver said that he just plain didn't see the pedestrian.  Even though I have tremendous sympathy for the family of the victim, the husband said "At stop signs they definitely need to let the pedestrian go first.  Otherwise this kind of tragedy is going to be continually happening.”  That wasn't the case at all.  The driver said he didn't SEE the pedestrian.  It wasn't that he saw her but wanted to "go first" instead of letting the pedestrian cross the street first.  Because his view was obstructed by the left mirror housing and A-pillar when making the turn, he just did not SEE her at all.  It could have been prevented by removing or mitigating the obstructions that prevented him from not seeing her  in the first place.  

The problem is, is that the police investigators do not completely understand the dynamics of what is happening.  Therefore, the drivers will keep getting blamed, cited, fired, and held legally responsible when it's not entirely their fault.  

I keep saying that I'd quit editorializing but every time I read about the families of the victims of these accidents, it is so gut-wrenching for me and just leaves me in an extremely contorted state of frustration.  

OF COURSE THESE LEFT-TURNING -BUS-PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENTS CAN BE PREVENTED  ...if anybody wants to know how, just view those two links at the bottom of my posts!  

Thanks for letting me vent  ...once again. 

Family grieves loss of woman fatally hit by tour bus

Woman killed on her birthday in pedestrian accident identified

 

 

 

 

Transit agencies always pin the blame on bus drivers for design flaws

 

 

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All news reports I've read pertaining to this accident state that the bus was making a right turn when hitting the pedestrian crossing the street in a crosswalk.  However, from the photos showing the position of the bus, it is clear to me that a LEFT TURN was being made.  I will make a correction should this story be updated by more current news reports.  

MTA coach 5305 is a  Nova Bus LFS Artic with a "double left-side A-pillar" and a 8" x 15" left mirror housing.

Pedestrian Hit by MTA Bus in East Village

MTA bus driver arrested after hitting, seriously injuring cancer patient on Manhattan street

 

 

 

Edited to add:  the image below confirms that the bus was definitely in the process of a left turn contrary to what all the news reports were stating that it was making a right turn:

NYC-pedestrian-struck-by-bus.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transit agencies always pin the blame on bus drivers for design flaws

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Female pedestrian is struck by a left-turning Saskatoon transit bus yesterday evening.  Fortunately, she is suffering from non-life threatening injuries.  

It appears that Saskatoon Transit uses the dreaded 8x12 left mirror housing.

Saskatoon bus hits pedestrian at downtown bus mall

 

 

Transit agencies always pin the blame on bus drivers for design flaws

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 3/17/2017 at 1:59 PM, roamer said:

Female pedestrian is struck by a left-turning Saskatoon transit bus yesterday evening.  Fortunately, she is suffering from non-life threatening injuries.  

It appears that Saskatoon Transit uses the dreaded 8x12 left mirror housing.

Saskatoon bus hits pedestrian at downtown bus mall

 

 

 

 

Transit agencies always pin the blame on bus drivers for design flaws

 

An 88-year old woman speaks out about the blind spot issue after hearing about the above accident in Saskatoon as she was hit by a left-turning bus at the same intersection in December (I somehow missed that one, btw).   Even though investigators say the circumstances were different, the article did not elaborate on the reasons why.

Saskatoon woman, 88, hit by bus speaks out after another injured at same spot

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  • 4 weeks later...

A fatality accident came across one of my alert sources this morning.  It didn't have anything to do with a left-turning bus but something caught my eye as I was viewing the news video describing the accident.   

This accident occurred in Little Rock Arkansas.  The bus involved was a Rock Region Metro Gillig Advantage.  The left mirror on this bus immediately caught my attention.  For one, it was one of the old-style manual 8" x 8" mirrors.  That was surprising to me as I wouldn't have imagined that any public transit agency is still using a manual left mirror.

But what was more noteworthy to me is the position the mirror is mounted.  THIS IS THE MOUNTING POSITION THAT ALL LEFT MIRRORS ON TRANSIT BUSES SHOULD USE.  The mounting position is so low that it should not interfere with the driver's view when making a left turn.  Even the shortest driver (or one with a short torso or one who chooses to sit lower in the seat) should not have a problem seeing over or around this left mirror in the position it is mounted.  

I personally give kudos to Rock Region Metro for not only choosing to use this particular mirror but more importantly, the position they chose to mount it.  For me, that is my exact preference ...to use the old-style manual mirror and mount it low enough where it doesn't obstruct my vision when making a left turn.  I don't need the new fancy-schamcy remotely controlled adjustment on the left mirror.  I can easily stick my hand out the window to adjust the mirror and really don't find necessary the remote control for the left mirror.

Incidentally, Rock Region Metro's newer buses (they appear to be Gillig BRTs) use a large top-mounted electric mirror which would be my second choice.  Evidently, their drivers have no problem adjusting to driving buses with a left mirror in either position.

LR Man Hit and Killed By City Bus   Story   Fox16.png

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/3/2017 at 5:32 AM, MAX BRT said:

Proterra is doing research on autonomous safety features on buses. I'm hopeful that such systems will eventually eliminate left-turning fatalities involving pedestrians. But more needs to be done right away.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alanohnsman/2017/05/02/robot-car-race-shifts-to-transit-buses-as-proterra-begins-reno-tests/#4192c20154da

Thanks for this, MAX_BRT.   I've been reading more and more about how robotic technology will in the future greatly impact the reduction in not only pedestrian accidents but accidents in general pertaining to transit buses.  We now see more publicity about self-driving vehicles in general so it is just a matter of time until we see it applied to aid the transit bus driver avoid, especially, these left-turning accidents.  

Until then, we still need transit agencies to look closely at the location they mount their left mirrors.  In the short-term, I believe emphasis remains on locating the left mirror so it does not block or obstruct the view of bus drivers as they make left turns.   Yes, drivers themselves must still be vigilant and continue to do their best to "rock and roll" in the seat to see around A-pillar obstruction and the left mirror housing in those instances where transit agencies refuse to spend the money on relocating the mounting position, and reduce the physical size, of the left mirror.  

One has to wonder how long it will take to see this robotic technology in ALL transit buses.  I'll guess twenty years but hopefully less.

 

 

Strictly anecdotal to read if you have time:

It reminds me of the time in the early 2000s when the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) mandated that all transit agencies require announcements inside the buses of detailed information pertaining to location, landmarks, and transfer points.  Our agency required that drivers announce a detailed list of items as we approached every bus stop.  Managers were required by their bosses to go out and ride a specified number of buses each week in order to determine if drivers were in compliance.  If upper management couldn't prove to the Feds that they were in compliance with ADA requirements, they could be in jeopardy of losing some or all of their federal funds.  

If a driver worked the same route every day, it should not have been a problem memorizing all the required announcements.  However, those of us who worked the extra board or report/standby (some of the higher seniority drivers would pick these positions because of the possibility of making more overtime) that worked a different route each day, it became a safety factor reading from the card when the bus was in motion while approaching each specified bus zone.  Talk about distracted driving!  As a fellow operator told me, he would have to put on reading glasses and turn on a driver's compartment light in order to read from this card all while driving down the road.  He thought it absurd that they’d compromise safety in this manner but since the Federal Government supplies huge amounts of money to transit agencies, it was money they didn’t want to lose.  If we missed announcing what was on the card while a manager was riding, of course we’d be written an infraction.  Although some drivers enjoyed making these announcements, most operators agreed that it should be incumbent on the transit agency to employ automated announcements as soon as possible because of the detailed requirements set forth by the ADA..   

The parallel in all this is that we knew that other transit agencies were implementing "smart bus" technology where among doing a host of other functions, would be GPS enabled where the bus itself would make the required announcements without the driver having to take their attention away from the road and driving duties.  We were told by management that they'd be looking into it and would implement it sometime in the future.  Our assumption that it would be fifteen to twenty years down the road and the drivers would be required to continue with these sometime unsafe actions in the meantime. The technology (from what I hear as I retired before it was implemented) was put in place, however, in less than ten years from that point when many of us were complaining about the safety ramifications of reading off a card while driving down the road.  

So, my hope is that the technology discussed in the referenced article will be put into place just as quickly as the "smart bus" technology was in order to ease the safety concerns of the drivers who ultimately receive the entire blame whenever a pedestrian is injured or killed by a left-turning transit bus.  

 

 

 

Transit agencies always pin the blame on bus drivers for design flaws

 

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