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.
If we encourage our operators to treat operating a bus as a shift-long Zen moment, we may be able to reduce preventable crashes by a significant amount. The “Zen Operator,” who drives precisely at all times, is also less stressed. The Zen Operator flows through difficult, tight situations easily and their body language and vibe give passengers a sense of confidence. The operator whose passengers have a white-knuckle death grip on the back of the seat in front of them is not practicing “Zen Bus Operation.”
Ah, summer. Pool parties, barbecues, the smell of honeysuckle and the sight of lightning bugs. Or — a rise in crime, agitated riders seeking air conditioning, heat stroke, a new fiscal year, and the necessary, but unpopular, fare increases. However you view the summer months, with a direct correlation between high temperatures and increased crime, it's vital for transit leaders to be asking themselves, "Have we done everything possible to keep our people safe?"
The RMS occurred last month in Albany, N.Y. and it was a truly remarkable learning experience for those in attendance. The RMS serves as a one-of-a-kind event that brings together transit risk management professionals from all across the country to focus on key topics related to safety, risk management, planning and prevention.
I recently attended, and had the opportunity to be part of a panel of speakers, at the NYC MTA Bus Safety Symposium. A variety of topics were discussed regarding bus and pedestrian safety issues. What was obvious is we all have a common goal to provide the safest transit systems possible, in spite of the possibility of increasing bus/pedestrian and bus/cyclist collisions.
I have had it with the never-ending meeting of the minds on the predominant causes of left-turn bus-pedestrian collisions. This whole issue is getting obscured with presentations that slice and dice every possible cause of these incidents into a collection of symbols, numbers and formulas. Please stop.