Transit Dispatches

Contributing bloggers discuss a variety of topics geared toward the transit and motorcoach sectors.

Back to the list

June 3, 2011

Hide-and-seek behind bus mirrors and A-pillars

by Louie Maiello - Also by this author

Bus operators should never drive solely for the moment, but also for what's ahead in their future. As professionals, they are responsible for conducting a SAFE turn, consisting of a safe approach, entry and exit of an intersection.

  • Set Up
  • Actual
  • Follow Through
  • Eliminating the possibility of being overtaken on the right side

Larger-sized bus mirrors adjacent to the A-Pillar may cause objects/pedestrians to be temporarily obstructed. I say temporarily obstructed rather than a blind spot because the object/pedestrian can be seen by the naked eye in the prep work that needs to be done before the actual turn. It is the operator's responsibility to ensure that no object/pedestrian becomes hidden behind a mirror or an A-Pillar when turning. An object/pedestrian would be considered in a blind spot if they were not visible to the naked eye or in the equipment provided (mirrors).

Setting Up the turn should begin in the middle third of the block by taking a mental snapshot of the approaching intersection before reaching the intersection. Possible hazards, turn type and what is around the corner that may cause an adjustment to the actual turn must be noted before the turn is attempted. Turns should be first made in the mind of the operator before the actual turn is made with the bus.

The Actual turn, in my opinion, should consist of push-pull steering to match the walking speed of the bus and by physically moving around the mirror and A-Pillar in a continuous scan to reveal the temporarily obstructed object/pedestrian. Hand-over-hand steering is more associated with steering a car and its smaller steering wheel.

With the convex mirror dangerously replacing the role of the flat (real-view) mirror, operators are getting too comfortable and conduct their turns without any forward or side body movement to assist them in exposing those temporary obstructions around the mirror and A-Pillar. This is where that mental snapshot of the intersection before arriving there is critical. The temporary obstruction had to be somewhere in sight before they disappeared behind a so-called blind spot!

The Follow Through and where to position the bus follows next as it completes the turn, followed by placing the bus in a position to Eliminate being overtaken on the vulnerable right side.

Courtesy Stops

I believe that a policy should be in place that would only allow a courtesy stop to be permitted in the first third of the block. This would give the operator making a left turn at the approaching corner:

  • Sufficient time for a safe lane change in the middle third of the block.
  • Sufficient time to straighten the bus and not be angled at the corner when setting up the turn in the final third of the block.

L turns (square) tend to be the safest type of turn to make. The S (hook) turn should be the exception rather than the norm; however, the operator should have other types of turning options available for the different clearance situations they may encounter.

Trainers, teach your operators to:

  • Lose the jump-start me-first attitude when turning against oncoming traffic and pedestrians.
  • Accelerate only when beginning the turn, while covering the brake and moving in the seat to scan left, center and right. When turning in bus models where steady acceleration is required, it should be controlled.
  • Accelerate when straight after completing the turn and confirming pivot area clearance.

Raising the white flag and losing some battles on the road will enable operators to win the war and go home collision-free!

In case you missed it...

Read our METRO blog, "Lack of transportation is hurting our health" here.

 

 

Louie Maiello


Write a letter to the editor
deli.cio.us digg it stumble upon newsvine


  • Paul Hughes[ June 5th, 2011 @ 6:15pm ]

    It should not be the responsibility of the driver to worry about the mirror blocking out pedestrians. The root cause here is the incorrect mirror being applied and that falls on the shoulders of the bus manufacturer and the mirror manufacturer.  There is a large company that delivers frozen food to people's homes that had an issue with this, not being able to see  pedestrians at intersections. The drivers stated they could not see the pedestrians because of the mirrors. The company has since switched to a properly placed mirror and correctly sized. The responsibility is on the bus manufacturer to provide the drivers with the correct product which eliminates training for a deficiency in product design and application.

  • J Fabian, CDS[ June 6th, 2011 @ 5:54am ]

    Mr. Maiello, I agree with your stated position. Your article is very accurate as to causes and cures of the very critical tranist left turn. I wanted to comment that I am seeing a change in the size and location of left side mirrors being procured on new transit vehicles throughout the country. The newer styles are smaller and mounted much lower to allow the bus operator to more easily see over the mirror to spot hazards while making a left turn. While the "A" post is still there for obvious reasons, the obstruction is less significant. I think this is a significant step to assist the operator have a clear view of the intersection and left side in general. It reduces the amount of movement the operator has to make in the seat to have direct vision of the left side area. Safety folks should also rememeber that retrofitting mirrors can make the entire fleet safer by next month, rather than waiting for new replacment vehicles. John

E-NEWSLETTER

Receive the latest Metro E-Newsletters in your inbox!

Join the Metro E-Newsletters and receive the latest news in your e-mail inbox once a week. SIGN UP NOW!

View the latest eNews
Express Tuesday | Express Thursday | University Transit

Author Bio

Heather Redfern

Public Information Manager, SEPTA


Marcia Ferranto

President/CEO, WTS International

Marcia Ferranto is President/CEO of WTS International.


Scott Belcher

President and CEO, Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America)


Joe Zavisca

Joe Zavisca is an independent consultant specializing in paratransit service.


Paul Mackie

Communications Director, Mobility Lab

Paul Mackie is communications director at Mobility Lab, a leading U.S. voice of “transportation demand management.”


Rob Taylo

Founder/CEO SinglePoint Communications

Rob Taylo is founder/CEO of SinglePoint Communications, an exclusive U.S. distributor of WiFi in Motion.


Joel Volinski

Director, National Center for Transit Research at CUTR/USF


Zack Shubkagel

Partner/Creative Director of Willoughby Design

Zack Shubkagel is partner and creative director for the San Francisco office of Willoughby Design, a strategic branding and design firm.


White Papers

Factors in Transit Bus Ramp Slope and Wheelchair-Seated Passenger Safety Nearly 3 million U.S. adults are wheelchair or scooter users1, and as the population ages this number is expected to rise. Many wheelchair users rely upon public transportation to access work, medical care, school and social activities.

Mass Transit Capital Planning An overview of the world-class best practices for assessing, prioritizing, and funding capital projects to optimize resources and align with the organization’s most critical immediate and long-term goals.

The Benefits of Door-to-Door Service in ADA Complementary Paratransit Many U.S. transit agencies continue to struggle with the quality of ADA service, the costs, and the difficulties encountered in contracting the service, which is the method of choice for a significant majority of agencies. One of the most basic policy decisions an agency must make involves whether to provide door-to-door, or only curb-to-curb service.

More white papers


 
DIGITAL EDITION

The full contents of Metro Magazine on your computer! The digital edition is an exact replica of the print magazine with enhanced search, multimedia and hyperlink features. View the current issue