Bus Collisions and the Fully-Equipped 'Medicine Cabinet'

Posted on September 16, 2016 by Louie Maiello - Also by this author

Diagnose, Prescribe & Follow-Up, are the usual doctor’s actions that are utilized when visiting the doctor’s office for whatever is ailing us. This formula should also apply within your training department with regard to the ailment of Bus Collisions. Without a fully equipped "medicine cabinet" in place containing the appropriate and most effective prescriptions that will be administered to the operator(s) involved, you can be sure you are not doing all you can to fix the problem.

These steps should be utilized during the post-collision investigation in attempting to determine a collision rating, and if preventable, whether a violation of a standard operating procedure (SOP) may have been the cause of what transpired. Even when non-preventability is the verdict, something positive should be taken away by the operator after the post-collision verdict. Obviously, special attention should be given to bus-on-bus, fixed-object and pedestrian-contact collisions.

OK, your bus camera system was triggered and an unsafe action has been identified, or you personally witness an unsafe action (SOP violation), which are contributors to the cause of a collision. Before going to the "medicine cabinet" for the prescription (corrective action), the diagnosis must occur to ensure the most effective prescription is administered, followed by the compliance follow-up.


Finding out the cause can usually come from point of contact among other related factors. Here is a simple example of what I'm saying. The written collision report states:

Bus conducting a right turn when operator heard contact coming from the right side of bus. Upon exiting the bus, bus operator discovered that an auto was also conducting a right turn along the right side of the bus, causing the contact to occur. In failing to ‘cover the right,’ the bus operator provided an opportunity (invitation) for the operator of the vehicle to move along right side of bus. Diagnosis: Bus operator failed to cover the right side of bus. Perhaps speed was a contributing factor or a right side mirror incorrectly positioned.


Administering the department’s proven corrective action as the ‘fix’ is the most effective way to improve the future performance of the operator. On board performance review supplemented by corrective action simulator sessions are a great combination in the evaluation and performance portion of the ‘fix.’ Training department personnel should be able to quickly determine what may have transpired by the simple indicator of where point of contact occurred for each vehicle. In the diagnosis of what occurred, a prescription will be written (a corrective action ‘fix’) that will demonstrate the proper positioning of the bus on future right turns, and if relevant, a review of proper speed when turning and proper mirror positioning.

Compliance Follow-Up:

Confirm that a second visit back to the doctor's office (Training Center) will not be required. This should only be the case if after a visual follow up of the operators driving reveals full compliance. Routine monitoring for a set pre-determined time after any prescription is issued should be the norm.

In closing, having a great training program is one thing, keeping your operators great is another. Ensure that you maintain a well-stocked set of prescriptions in your training department’s medicine cabinet.

Summary: Diagnose the problem leading to the collision, prescribe the corrective action ‘fix’ and follow up to ensure compliance.

Louie is the former director of training for the New York City Transit Dept. of Buses Safety & Training Division and 2003 NTI Fellow. Currently, he is Advisor/Lead Instructor, Transit Training Solutions.

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