Baltimore's Billy Murphy, well known from frequent appearances on local TV screens, presented bus crash victim Michelle Kennedy a day after the terrible event that killed six when Michelle was probably still in shock and next of kin of the fatally injured, colleagues at MTA, and bus riders were still trying to grasp what happened.
|2014 model MTA bus|
However this crash occurred, it should remain clear that public transportation is one of the safest modes available in the US. In all of 2010 there were 215 fatalities involving all modes of public transit nationwide (including pedestrians) compared to 32,885 road fatalities (including pedestrians and buses), a number that unfortunately increased to 38,300 in 2015. 44 people riding commercial buses (all types) were killed in 2014 according statistics provided by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
|news conference with crash victim|
COMAR 11.22.03 prescribes preventive maintenance standards for certain
vehicles, including passenger buses. These include standards for alignment;
suspension; steering; brake systems; tires; wheels, rims, lock rings, studs,
and nuts; accelerator pedal and air throttle; fuel storage and delivery system;
exhaust system; universal joints and u-clamps; frame, body, and sheet metal;
lighting; electrical equipment; emergency equipment; seats and seat belts; sun
visor; mirrors; glazing; windshield wipers and washers; defroster; automatic
transmission gear selector/neutral safety switch; speedometer and odometer;
brake and clutch pedal; and horn.
MTA has developed fleet management plans and standard operating procedures (SOP) based on APTA standards, Federal Motor Carrier Standards, and best practices.(FTA Report).
|crash scene Tuesday morning (SUN photo)|
|School bus 1955|
|school bus 1955|
None of the usually discussed additional bus safety measures such as seat belts would have prevented fatalities in a violent impact such as the one that occurred Tuesday on Frederick Avenue. The National Safety Council NSC has advocated seat-belts for school buses.
What would prevent any type crash based on a failure of the operator would be autonomous vehicle (AV) buses if they would be operated in a setting where all other vehicles are also self driving. The future of AV transit has already begun in Helsinki where a few small automated transit buses operate in mixed traffic (they still have an operator during the test phase).
Tragic crashes have often provoked good additional safety measures. This terrible crash, though, doesn't seem suitable for a bus safety debate. It should cause sympathy with those who lost their mothers, fathers, husbands, wives and siblings and reflection on how suddenly life can be upended.
Klaus Philipsen, FAIA