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Improved bus safety?

JIM BANHOLZER

Centre Hall

Let’s be certain to utilize the futuristic tools we already have for improved bus safety.

I have been living in Central Pennsylvania for two years now after relocating here from Idaho. Out west, I worked driving large trucks for 20 years, plus focused on aircraft safety at a busy airline for six. In addition, I’ve worked as a newspaper opinion contributor, sometimes writing with strong emphasis on highway safety issues.

Now as a disabled person, I’ve been working at a Work Skills Program since 2018, and am grateful for this type of productive work. From my house, most days I catch the bus to and from work and have made some noteworthy observations along the way.

The majority of my fellow bus passengers are also disabled and some don’t have much of a voice, nor do I normally see their guardians or advocates aboard. I sometimes have noted safety concerns that my dedicated work colleagues seldom address (or perhaps simply don’t notice,) so I try to speak up for them, to ensure that their (our) equal rights for harmless environments stay in place.

A top concern is this: One spring afternoon in 2018, while riding aboard a fully loaded 12-seat local public transportation bus, the driver hit a long valley straightaway and then sped up. Soon she was exceeding 80 mph in a posted 55 zone, and continued this fast rate steadily over our next 5 to 6 miles. I wish that my camera then would have been of enough high quality to zoom in to show this clearly.

Months later I experienced an interesting synchronicity when work management trained me for a new task of assembling “Mobile Logic Units” for bus fleets. When I asked our bus drivers about some of the inner workings of these black-box-like devices, they told me that these recorders transpose and save tremendous amounts of data. For instance, in areas where commercial buses equipped with these data recorders exceed speed limits, the variegated maps are programmed via GPS receivers to mark those spots, indicating them with red flags.

I’m curious though if bus managers actually address any of these warnings of bending or breaking speeding laws. Because by many standards operating a commercial vehicle at 25 mph over the posted limit is considered reckless driving – and with a bus full of nearly voiceless disabled people living on the margins of society to boot!

My intuition niggles at me rigorously that perhaps they do not.

And if PennDOT has the authority to conduct audits for such vital bus safety information, I suggest this is something they consider investigating deeper if they do not already do so. After all, why would our tremendous public bus services invest in expensive cutting-edge safety features if management is possibly overlooking these?

Indeed, endangering already disabled passengers such as us sub-minimum but diligent wage earners should be held as an uppermost consideration to be avoided at all costs.

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