Adjust Your Bus Mirrors before Leaving the Yard

Posted on December 28, 2015 by Steve Mentzer - Also by this author

Due to the layout of the yard, sufficient room was available for the agency to incorporate a mirror checking station. The check station was created using a series of colored bean bags precisely arranged within the periphery of the bus as it was poised to exit the yard.
Due to the layout of the yard, sufficient room was available for the agency to incorporate a mirror checking station. The check station was created using a series of colored bean bags precisely arranged within the periphery of the bus as it was poised to exit the yard.

Now, that sounds like some good advice! Wait, isn't that part of your pre-trip? Then, shouldn't it stand to reason that the mirrors would be set correctly for each bus before it leaves the yard? Have you checked to see whether this is actually the case at your property? Should you?

Well, 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."

They also noticed documentation for a number of incidents containing recurring phrases such as: "Mirrors set incorrectly," "Mirrors not set to the agency's standards," "Flat mirror set too high," and so on.

So, the agency responded by addressing the issue during training and also issued a series of safety bulletins alerting operators to ensure a proper mirror set up before leaving the yard. They monitored the situation, but didn't observe the outcome they were seeking.

Then, they got a little creative.

Due to the layout of the yard, sufficient room was available for the agency to incorporate a mirror checking station. They used the station to prevent any bus from leaving the yard, unless they had their mirrors set properly.

The check station was created using a series of colored bean bags (see picture) precisely arranged within the periphery of the bus as it was poised to exit the yard.

Each bean bag indicated a specific reference point for setting mirrors. The color of the bags changed intermittently to prevent operators from knowing which color bag would serve as the reference for setting a specific portion of a specific mirror based on the arrangement encountered during the previous morning’s pull out. Once the operator was able to use their mirrors to identify the color and location of each bag in the set up grid, the operator was “authorized” to leave the yard and begin servicing their route.

The grid established a clear standard for what the operator should be able see in each mirror to ensure a proper set up.

A thought probably comes to mind that this is a bad idea, because it will cause delays to conduct the check, which may result in buses stacking up as they attempt to leave the yard during the crush of morning pull outs. At first, this did cause a bit of, oh let's call it "heartburn" for the garage manager. Fortunately, the situation quickly improved through practice — reducing the time required to conduct the check, thus eliminating any adverse impact on the morning pull out.

More importantly, the agency started to see immediate improvement in safety performance. By carefully tracking their key performance indicators, this agency was able to determine the positive impact made by this single change to their daily routine.

In the end, a simple "low tech" solution is generating the outcome they are seeking by reducing the frequency of preventable incidents caused by an improper mirror set up.

Steve Mentzer is manager, transit simulations, training & courseware, L-3 D.P. Associates.

This blog is based on a roundtable discussion that was led by Greg Brady (York Region Transit) during the 2015 APTA Bus & Paratransit Conference in Ft. Worth, Texas.

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