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Bus Blind Spots Cause 1 Pedestrian Death Every 10 Days

In the United States, we tend to believe that our leaders and companies always seek solutions to problems most likely to save lives and prevent needless bus and truck accidents. Unfortunately, this assumption does not always pan out. In today’s world, it seems that companies and even some elected officials are willing to elevate profitability and budgetary concerns over the value of human life. For example, the potentially volatile inflator propellant used in certain Takata-produced airbags was selected, at least in part, due to the substance’s extremely affordable nature in comparison to competing inflators. However, in the long-run, the severe personal injuries, fatalities, and other damages caused by the propellant greatly surpasses the short-run cost savings initially realized. And this is only one example of a company putting short-run profits ahead of safety concerns.

Unfortunately, according to the Amalgamated Transit Union, a union representing city bus workers, we can now add bus design to the list of products where cost savings have taken precedence over safety concerns. The union claims that problems with the bus design result in one preventable pedestrian fatality every ten days in the United States.

As we have previously written about on the blog, this claim comes as early data shows that pedestrian deaths surged in 2015. According to early estimates, researchers believe that pedestrian death rates may have spiked by as much as 10 percent in 2015. Analysts state that is the projections hold, the spike in pedestrian deaths will be the largest year-over-year increase since tracing for the statistic began in 1975. In all, there were 2,368 pedestrians killed in the first six months of 2015.

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Fatal Accidents Highlight Bus Blind Spot Problem

According to an article in the January/ February edition of In Transit Magazine, the Official Journal of the Amalgamated Transit Union(AFL-CIO/CLC), a number of recent bus-pedestrian injuries highlights the urgent need for a reexamination of bus designs. The article cites recent fatal accidents the occurred in a Bethesda, Maryland crosswalk and in Brooklyn.  In the first accident, a 67-year-old woman was killed by a bus. In the second accident, a 70-year-old woman was killed while crossing the street. These are just two of the likely preventable deaths caused by the design of buses used in the United States.

Buses used throughout the U.S. utilize large left-hand side mirrors in an attempt to account for the blind spots and other driving dangers including the vehicles wide “A” pillars. The “A” pillar is the column that attaches and secures the left side of the windshield to the driver’s side window. Unfortunately, both the mirror and the “A” pillar result in significant blind spots. These blind spots are so significant that, according to the article, more than a dozen pedestrians could be obscured in the blind spots created by the mirror and pillar combination.

These Accidents and Deaths Are Preventable

The article also states that European bus designs have long accounted for these problems. European buses provide a bus driver with an unobstructed view to reduce the likelihood of pedestrian deaths and injuries in cities, towns, and other urban areas. In fact according to International president Larry Hanley, “We engineered safe buses over half a century ago, only to trade safety for higher profit and lower cost. Europe has safe buses now. The American public deserves no less today.”

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The Amalgamated Transit Union has recommended changes to bus designs. However, these recommendations have been rejected by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) on the grounds that the “A” pillar is “essential to the structural integrity” of buses. Rather, the APTA still recommends the use of the “bob and weave” method to attempt to handle blind spots created. However, even when using this method, the average bus driver is only able to move their eyes half the width of some obstructions. Other driver’s movements are encumbered by the extremely large steering wheel found in many buses.

The article also touches on the fact that the costs to build safe buses are far outweighed by the potential harms. According to one estimate cited in the article, it would only cost a maximum of $300 a bus to eliminate the blind spots. Unfortunately, it seems that concerns over short-run profitability are again taking precedence over long-run safety and liability concerns.

Injured by a City Bus? Call a Truck Accident Lawyer for Legal Guidance

If you have suffered a serious injury due to blind spots created by defective bus design, the personal injury and pedestrian injury lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm may be able to fight for you. To schedule a free and confidential initial consultation call (215) 246-9000 or contact us online today.


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