TriMet continues its overview of safety procedures in the wake of the tragic
bus accident that killed two and injured three others. So far the bus
driver has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing, and TriMet has implemented
some changes to several bus routes.
The agency has stated its belief that one of the primary factors in the
April crash was the fact that the bus driver had made an illegal left
turn from the far right lane of a one-way street, thereby cutting across
two lanes of traffic to make the turn. TriMet believes that angle altered
the driver’s line of vision, making it difficult or impossible for
her to see the pedestrians in the crosswalk.
Ordinarily, the driver would have made the left turn from the left lane,
but on this occasion she had made an unscheduled courtesy stop for the
lone passenger on the bus. In order to drop the passenger off onto the
sidewalk, she had to be in the far right lane. She did not or was unable
to properly position the bus in the left lane before the left turn.
So, it is probably not a surprise that this week the transit agency announced
changes to its policy regarding unscheduled courtesy stops. Courtesy stops
will still be allowed, but not if the stop requested is less than a block,
or, if there are no blocks, less than 100 feet, before a left-hand turn.
TriMet also changed a few more routes to make left turns safer.