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.
- 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.
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!
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