Any way you want to label them, bus "convex" and "real view" mirror discussions generate as much passion as who was the better centerfielder in New York: Mantle, Mays or DiMaggio. Let's put a few misconceptions about these mirrors to rest and get the best use out of them.
Some operators claim they can't drive a bus unless they are equipped with convex mirrors. I have also heard from those who hate them. Any tool that can "help" — and that's the key word — "help" the operator is something useful.
1) The convex mirror cannot accurately display the true distance that an object is away from the bus/rear tires.
2) The convex mirror should cry out to the operator that "there is something here that may not yet have appeared in your real view mirror yet, so you better transfer to your real view mirror to get the accurate distance from the object." Hear this every time you go to your "convex" mirror.
Relying on the convex mirror to check your pivot point when turning — with the exception of the split real view on top and convex on the bottom found on the articulated bus — will not give the operator the true distance the object is away from the bus. You should never guess how close the pedestrian/object is to the rear tires when turning by using the "convex mirror." If you are not using the "real view" mirror when checking your pivot point on turns, than it's just a matter of time before you get involved in a not so pleasant situation.
The exception again is the articulated bus. The articulated buses that I instructed on, if the mirrors are set properly, the only mirror that will display the rear tires when turning is the "convex."
"Convex" says - There's something close to the bus.
"Real View" says - How close?
Know the differences.
If you're not careful, the "convex" mirror can make you lazy. Teach the benefits of all mirrors to your students and that proper mirror set up and utilization are keys to safe operations. When I was a new bus driver, some buses were equipped with neither a real view nor a convex mirror on the right side. All we had was the reflection coming from the right rear interior ceiling and my tilted center interior mirror to manage the right side of the bus. Manhattan driving with no right side mirrors was a great experience! Talk about "covering your right?" That's another story.
Spend a little more time on mirror introduction when beginning a new class.
A situation where the "convex" mirror outweighs the "real" view is just before closing the front doors when preparing to leave a bus stop:
RIGHT SIDE CONVEX MIRROR reveals the child alongside mid-bus, behind the right front tires and forward of the rear doors. A child is sometimes sent by a parent "go tell the operator to wait." The child is not tall enough to appear in the center mirror or through the windows and will only appear in the right side convex mirror. The area below the window where the child usually is as you begin to close the doors becomes visible in the "convex" mirror.
CENTER MIRROR (tilted down to the right of course) reveals who may be running for the bus coming from the right side that may not yet have appeared in the real view.
We've come a long way.
Operating a fixed-route bus in today’s distracted world requires high levels of focus and concentration. The brain must continually sift through loads of information during bus operation to determine what things can be ignored and what things pose a potential threat to our safety and well-being. Once the brain detects a potential hazard or threat, a specific response must occur to keep us from harm’s way. When our brains are forced to sustain this level of effort for long periods of time a great deal of energy is required.
It’s no secret that I am a firm believer in bus simulator training. I enjoyed the benefits of utilizing simulators as a supplemental training tool during my days at New York City Transit. The simulators helped us produce outstanding results by targeting specific outcomes. If your simulator training is not producing what you expected it to deliver, the answer is plain and simple: something is wrong!
One agency decided to conduct a “safety blitz” to determine whether mirrors were being set correctly and discovered, much to their surprise, that a growing number of operators were leaving the yard in a mad rush to avoid being late — deciding to adjust their mirrors at their first available opportunity. What they learned was that many of these operators left the yard with every intention of setting their mirrors correctly. However, once these operators began servicing their routes — the task appeared to "slip their minds."
In most organizations, 80% to 95% of all bus operators are found to be safe, reliable and courteous, but often, they don’t know it because nobody tells them. If safe bus operation represents a core value for your property, what are you leaders doing to encourage and reinforce the desired behaviors among your bus operators?
Those of you who take a few minutes each month to follow my blogs, or have attended one of my past presentations at transit events, first let me thank you. These blogs and presentations, in combination, have been promoting surface transit standards in a form of a standardized curriculum for over 10 years now. I ask you, are we not long overdue in getting transit specific standards a done deal? By the time of this posting, I would have again stood before a group of transit professionals at a recently attended transit function in Orlando, Fla., speaking on this exact topic.