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71 The purpose of this study was to document successful practices and training initiatives, including bus operator training and retraining programs, that have been effective in reducing accidents and incidents. The study also focused on other system approaches that have been implemented to address safety hazards, including various technology applications, infrastructure modifications, and other programs and initiatives, such as driver incentive programs and close call/near miss reporting. Con- clusions from the study and case examples, including practices deemed successful, are provided here. TRAINING As reflected in the literature review and in case example interviews, training is an effective and necessary method to ensure and improve transit bus system safety. Agencies with well-designed and consistent bus operator refresher training and tech- nology-directed post-event or event-avoidance refresher training and counseling were very effective in reducing the riskiest behaviors among bus operators. In the literature, a study performed in Sweden (âLong-Term Effects of Training in Economical Driving: Fuel Consump- tion, Accidents, Driver Acceleration Behavior and Technical Feedbackâ) examined the long-term effects of training in eco- nomical driving, noting a direct correlation between fuel-efficient driving and bus accident reduction. The results over time revealed that trained operators had fewer accidents per hours worked than nontrained operators. Similarly, a study from Denmark (âBus Accident Severity and Passenger Injury: Evidence from Denmarkâ) revealed the need for new bus operators to undergo training on hazard recognition skills to mitigate the severity of bus accidents that do occur and to promote bus passenger safety. De-escalation training for bus operators was described as a method to develop the knowledge and skills required to avoid conflicts that may otherwise turn into physical altercations. In addition to training on appropriate de-escalation techniques, the training also teaches employees how to report incidents effectively and without retaliation. This study (Preventing and Mitigating Transit Worker Assaults in the Bus and Rail Transit Industry) suggested that the success of this approach depends on ongoing, interactive training tailored to employeesâ specific risks. Fatigue prevention and awareness training is another method used to improve safety by decreasing accidents while also potentially decreasing the cost of operations. According to the study (Establishing a Fatigue Management Program for the Bus and Rail Transit Industry), for fatigue management training to be effective, it must be scalable and flexible according to transit agency size, and must adhere to the core traits of the four pillars (safety policy, safety risk management, safety assur- ance, and safety promotion) of a safety management system (SMS). Complacency (often the result of repetitive actions that lead to reduced focus) has been established as a hazard, specifi- cally for transit bus operators with several years of experience. This study (âAvoiding Complacency on the Jobâ) suggested that refresher training (with an emphasis on the dangers associated with lack of hazard identification) and active accident prevention may lead to a reduction in complacency among bus operators. The study concluded that annual refresher train- ing (at a minimum) should be required for all operators and that it should include hazard identification to reduce incidents and collisions. Simulator training used to replace behind-the-wheel training was found to reduce the cost of training by $37 per hour and to reduce training program length by 5 full days. In terms of performance, simulator training decreased the reaction time of one operator by 23%. Operators who were trained on simulators were involved in 36% fewer incidents than their counterparts who were not trained using simulators (Simulators and Bus Safety: Guidelines for Acquiring and Using Transit Bus Operator Driving Simulators). CHAPTER SIX CONCLUSIONS
72 Interviewees from the case example agencies in this study said the importance of recurring refresher training could not be overstated. Every case study agency provides refresher or recertification training, and most provide it annually. All the agen- cies reported successes in their safety improvement programs, and training was a central element. TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS According to the report Transit Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) Applications: Near Term Research and Development, 14% of transit bus collisions involve pedestrians or cyclists, and they are the costliest types of collisions. Various pedestrian warning devices were described as successful in reducing the number of transit bus incidents. These systems include vehicle-to-infra- structure (V2I) applications such as those that use technology built into bus stops that audibly warns pedestrians that a bus is in the vicinity while simultaneously warning the bus operator of pedestrians in the vicinity of the bus stop. Another example of V2I applications is intelligent pedestrian warning systems that use parametric speaker technology to warn pedestrians who are in the path of a turning bus. Camera-based systems are used by all 11 case example transit agencies and are often cited in transit safety research. Inter- viewees identified myriad benefits of these systems, including using the videos in operator training to address risky driving behaviors and de-escalation techniques, and addressing customer complaints and claims. The research suggests that cameras placed on the sides of buses and connected to monitors that provide real-time image displays of the operatorsâ blind zones may be helpful. The report stated that bus operators who have used the camera-based systems reported eliminated blind zones, reduced risk for side-impact collisions, and improved bus safety. The use of telemetry-based driver monitoring systems (DMSs) was found to be prevalent across the industry. These sys- tems automatically collect data for analysis of safety-related events such as incidents, near misses, speeding, and distracted driving. The DMSs (which are used by four case example agenciesâGreater Bridgeport Transit, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Jacksonville Transportation Authority, and Utah Transit Authority) capture, identify, prioritize, and analyze causes of poor or risky driving before an incident occurs, enabling the transit agency to take corrective action. The literature review (âSan Francisco Municipal Transportation Case Studyâ) revealed that San Franciscoâs Municipal Trans- portation Agency reported a 50% decline in bus accidents in one year, attributed to a DMS, with the greatest improvements in the behaviors of bus operators with the worst driving records. During the case example interview, JTA reported similar astonishing results with its DMS, also attributing a 50% improvement to the program. JTA specifically appreciates the thoroughness of the data collection, especially in no-damage risk incidents (such as a bus operator following too closely) that would probably not have been reported in the past. Most notably, JTA reported a 90% improvement in the riskiest bus operator behaviors in just 9 months of using the program, owing to the agencyâs ability to intervene with remedial training before an incident occurred. Greater Cleveland RTA received METRO Magazineâs 2015 Innovative Solutions Award in Safety for its partnership with a DMS provider. RTA implemented the DMS program on its entire fleet in 2014 and, within a year, experienced a 60% reduction in speed violations, a 55% reduction in red light violations, and a 53% improvement in seatbelt compliance. Certain configurations of rear lighting on transit buses may be effective in reducing the likelihood of rear-end collisions by alerting the automobile operator that the bus intends to stop. The study (âEvaluation of Rear-End Bus Collisions and Identification of Possible Solutionsâ) noted limits to the effectiveness of this solution, specifically referencing the difficulty of overcoming the inattentiveness of automobile operators. In the current study, both the literature review and discussions with case example agencies revealed instances of decreases in rear-end collisions following the installation of various rear lighting and marking configurations; however, no known research has shown a permanent reduction. There is no consensus yet about what type of lighting and design configurations are most effective in reducing rear-end collisions; those that have been employed include larger LED rear lights, strobing amber lights, flashing red âSTOPâ lights, and retroreflective strips. Some agencies have tried removing rear-end visual distractions such as paint schemes and graphics. At the December 2015 quarterly meeting of the Florida Transit Safety Network, Lee Tran reported a reduction in rear-end collisions since 2014 that the agency attributes at least partially to the addition of retroreflective caution tape and the reconfiguration of rear lighting. CONSTRAINTS AND CHALLENGES The findings in the literature review, interviews with case example agencies, and transit safety data establish that one of the most significant safety issues in the public transit industry is the actions of inattentive drivers in other vehicles. Distracted
73 pedestrians and cyclists were also cited as problematic. Although transit agencies have found success through bus operator training, the application of various technologies, and internal safety promotion programs, awareness education of the public is a challenge. The use of telemetry-based DMS reporting tools was considered successful by the agencies that use these systems. How- ever, the JTA interviewee noted that these systems are expensive, which may be a limiting factor for small and rural transit providers. A similar comment was made by representatives from Lane Transit District, who said that because of the propriety nature of these systems, access to the information gathered and the video recordings could be cost-prohibitive. Challenges associated with pedestrian detection systems include balancing the cost and accuracy of various types of pedestrian scanners, and public resistance to the additional cameras that are required, which raise concerns related to privacy issues. An additional reported challenge with audible retrofit safety packages implemented to reduce pedestrian and bicycle collisions is the high rate of false warnings owing to GPS and detector limitations. LESSONS LEARNED Programs have been successful as a result of multipronged or multifaceted coordinated efforts to address transit safety. In the 11 case example agencies, no single method led to improved safety. Strategies such as increased or modified operator training, technology applications, infrastructure modifications, and safety campaigns and promotions were often implemented together. It is difficult to judge the effectiveness of one strategy to reduce transit incidents when multiple strategies are implemented con- currently. However, it is important that other agencies considering the institution of various corrective actions to improve safety embrace the strategies reflected in this studyâstrategies that include multiple approaches to improve bus safety. Lessons learned with reference to technology solutions to improve bus transit safety cover a broad spectrum of most effective practices. One commonality among all technological solutions available to improve transit bus safety is a holistic approach to incident investigations. This was identified in the literature review and during case example interviews. There was consensus that incidents are not typically the result of one action or one design but rather the result of a combination of causal or contributing factors. Technology applications and the tools they provide may contribute to a better understanding of events that have occurred and behaviors that could contribute to future events. RTA staff mentioned the importance of working closely with members of the labor union when implementing new pro- grams, procedures, or technology applications. The agency attributes much of its success with the DMS program to accep- tance of the technology by bus operators; this acceptance was the result of constant communication with the local ATU before, during, and after the implementation of the program. Representatives of LTD echoed this view. For transit agencies consider- ing the implementation of safety programs, including technology applications, LTD staff strongly advised that if an agency is going to institute a program, communication with the union should begin sooner rather than later. They further emphasized the importance of giving the program a sufficient trial period, adopting a âbeing in it for the long runâ mentality, avoiding programs that are overly punitive, and consistently delivering a message that reminds employees âwhy weâre doing this and what the costs are if we donât.â LTD staff also said that their success was highly dependent on their human resources director, who meets regularly with union leadership, fostering relationships based on inclusiveness and transparency. Lessons learned in reference to incentive programs and rewards have revealed that success depends on their use in con- junction with an existing safety program. As tools to improve transit bus safety, incentives raise awareness of an agencyâs commitment to safety; however, interviewees said, this commitment must be established in the agencyâs safety management plan before any type of incentive program is initiated. When used in conjunction with a safety management plan, incentive programs, especially those implemented with management support, were described as successful in improving not only the safety of the system but also morale and employee-employer relationships by increasing the focus on positive behavior. A number of case example interviewees noted that the evolution of the SMS framework in the public transit industry will likely, by its design, limit agenciesâ ability to establish the effectiveness of one mitigation strategy over others. System approaches to eliminate the risk of systemic safety failures will become the norm in this environment, and establishing the efficacy of individual strategies will likely require evaluations in controlled environments. However, the case example par- ticipants agreed that the progress toward a mature SMS framework within their agencies and across the country would result in an overall reduction in transit safety risks.
74 SUMMARY Quality and frequency of training were established as critical to the overall safety programs highlighted in the case examples. Most of the 11 agencies provide annual refresher or recertification training, and this training is central to their safety manage- ment systems. Agencies value the use of onboard video and audio recordings in refresher and remedial training and in counseling ses- sions with specific bus operators. Interviewees agreed on the effectiveness of recordings, both those reflecting poor driving performance and operator behavior and those demonstrating exceptional performance and conduct. The use of telemetry-based DMSs continues to increase, and the tools available to agencies that have installed these sys- tems are highly valued in increasing overall transit safety through the reduction of safety risks. The availability of data on near misses and close calls, aggressive maneuvering and braking, and seatbelt use (coupled with the highly effective use of videos from the system) was regarded as central to the success of the case example agencies that used them. FURTHER RESEARCH The minimal use or recent addition of simulators for bus transit operator training is reflected in a lack of quantitative data available for an analysis of their effectiveness in improving transit safety. Future longitudinal research on the effectiveness of simulator training over time will likely produce statistically significant results. The actions of other drivers that result in collisions with transit buses are a critical point that must be addressed. Research could be conducted to evaluate public outreach programs and other strategies designed and implemented to increase the awareness of the public (including drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists) and to caution them about the dangers of distraction and other factors that contribute to collisions with transit buses. An independent assessment of telemetry-based DMSs would be valuable to evaluate the effectiveness of these systems in reducing safety risks and improving driving behavior.