Media Center

Nov 4

70-year old Brooklyn Pedestrian is latest victim of fatal bus design

ATU has petitioned MTA, city, state to fix bus mirrors & “A” pillars that create huge blind spots leading to fatal pedestrian accidents

Washington, DC – The tragic death of 70-year old Brooklyn woman killed by a bus in a crosswalk highlights the dangerous problem of huge bus driver blind spots created by poor bus design says the Amalgamated Transit Union, which has called on the MTA, New York City and state to fix.

Roughly one pedestrian per week is killed by a transit bus in the United States. U.S. buses have huge left hand mirrors, mounted in critical sight lines that needlessly block the driver's vision and cause fatal pedestrian accidents. In fact, from the point of view of the bus driver, well over a dozen pedestrians may be hidden behind the massive "A" pillar and left side mirror at any given time. Unlike European buses, all U.S. transit buses (see photo of comparison) in service today ignore driver’s need for unobstructed view with several enormous and unnecessary blind spots, including poorly placed fare boxes and other design defects.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of this woman. But this tragic fatal accident did not have to happen,” said ATU International President Larry Hanley. “Crosswalks are the industry’s Achilles heel and blind spots for operators created by poor bus design are the reason why. Yet bus drivers are being unfairly blamed and even prosecuted for these preventable accidents.”

ATU has made numerous presentations to MTA, New York City and state officials demonstrating the problem of bus blind spots and how to fix it. The union has called for new buses with low mounted, reasonably sized left side mirrors and "A" pillars which allow operators, regardless of height, to adequately view pedestrians crossing in front of the bus and an overall drivers' area which eliminates blind spots to the greatest extent possible.

"We engineered safe buses over half a century ago, only to trade safety for higher profit and lower cost.  Europe has safe buses now,” Hanley continued.  “The American public deserves no less today."

Transit systems from coast to coast continue to order buses with the flawed design of huge mirrors and massive “A” pillars and put them on the road. Bus operators have resorted to bobbing and weaving in their seat -- the "rock and roll" method – in an attempt to see around these massive pillars and mirrors. For the typical operator, leaning far enough to impede steering moves the eyes only half the width of some obstructions and many simply cannot move around freely in the seat around the huge steering wheel.

Despite the fact that the cost of liability far exceeds the cost of safe design, bus manufacturers - one of whom estimates the increase in build cost to eliminate the blind spots would be under $300 per bus - continues to produce and sell these dangerous buses.

“This senseless tragedy could have been prevented and the solution is staring the MTA, the city and state officials right in the face,” Hanley continued. “The American public deserves safety to come first and until U.S. transit agencies demand a change in the design of buses to remove the unnecessary blind spots like European buses, people will continue to die in these preventable accidents.”