Media Center

May 30

10-year old New Jersey boy on bike is latest victim of fatal bus design

The tragic death of a 10-year old New Jersey boy riding his bike in a crosswalk killed by a bus highlights the dangerous problem of huge bus driver blind spots created by poor bus design says the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), which has called on the NJ Transit, the state, and Congress to fix the problem.

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 drivers needs for an 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 young boy. These senseless tragedies have multiple victims: the person struck by the bus, their family and friends, and the bus operator whose life will never be the same,” said ATU International President John Costa. “But this tragic fatal accident did not have to happen. Crosswalks are the industry’s Achilles heel and blind spots for operators created by poor bus design are the reason why. Congress has the power to fix this.”

ATU has called for passage of the Transit Worker and Pedestrian Protection Act (H.R. 1139/S. 436) to fix the driver blind spot issue and ensure the safety of transit workers and riders. The bill requires U.S. transit agencies to collaborate with workers to address bus driver blind spot problems, create risk- reduction plans, and install physical barriers to protect drivers from attacks.

"We engineered safe buses over half a century ago, only to trade safety for higher profit and lower cost.  Europe has safe buses now,” Costa continued.  “The 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.

The Union is calling 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.

 “This senseless tragedy could have been prevented and the solution is staring transit agencies and Congress right in the face,” Costa continued noting that more than 133 Members of Congress have co-sponsored the bill, but more are needed. “The American public deserves safety to come first and until Congress passes this bill to fix the unnecessary driver blind spots like European buses, people will continue to die in these preventable accidents.”