Blind Spot on SEPTA Buses May Cause Dangerous Accidents
December 6, 2014
According to SEPTA, the tragic death of a 29 year old mother in September was most likely due to driver error. However, many believe the oversized driver side mirror is to blame.
The woman and her young son were struck by the bus when they were crossing 15th street and Washington Avenue in Philadelphia. Apparently, the bus driver didn’t see the pair crossing when he made a turn around a corner. The mother suffered fatal injuries and her son sustained non-fatal yet serious injuries as a result of the pedestrian accident.
The bus accident highlights the fact that the mirrors on SEPTA buses create a large blind spot which poses a danger for every Philadelphia pedestrian. SEPTA recognizes the blind spot issue, but feels their buses can operate with this “acceptable risk.”
A former SEPTA bus driver came forward stating that while on the job, he and other workers were given memos warning the drivers about the blind spot. His report indicates that the blind spot could cause a driver to lose sight of a pedestrian for approximately five feet or an estimated two seconds. The ex-employee states that in 2012, he warned SEPTA about the potential danger the mirrors posed to pedestrians.
The oversized mirrors may be to blame for many pedestrian accidents, especially when bus drivers are making a left hand turn. A recent report indicates that a driver can lose sight of 17 feet when having to make a left hand turn. Union officials believe that the only way to keep pedestrians safe is to completely eliminate the risk.
SEPTA officials assert that all buses will have blind spots and that the drivers requested the bigger mirrors. They also feel that an overwhelming majority of their bus accidents are caused by driver errors. Drivers are taught safety techniques, but some feel that they are not good enough to keep all people safe. Some maneuvers require drivers to stand in order to see and that alone poses a danger.
Effective January, 2015 SEPTA plans to replace the larger mirrors with smaller ones, but maintains that the safety issue is not connected to the mirrors. SEPTA continues to assert that SEPTA bus accidents involving pedestrians occur when drivers make mistakes while using the mirrors.
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