Bengaluru: Blind spots in vehicles are one of the leading causes of accidents, and the problem is amplified when the vehicle is a bus. For many years, Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) bus drivers have been complaining of such blind spots. Finally, the corporation is taking steps to rectify them.
As part of the effort, the corporation is running a pilot project to replace side-view mirrors in 10 buses. While newer buses will have larger sized mirrors that eliminate blind spots, older buses are being fitted with larger side-view mirrors with a small convex mirror embedded in them to provide better visibility.
The blind spot exists on the left hand side, which poses problems for drivers while driving in dense traffic. Most of the premium services have mirrors large enough to eliminate blind spots, however, drivers of older buses with smaller mirrors face a problem.
“We are trying to see if this can be improved by installing bigger, split mirrors, which will have a small component that will show a larger image besides the regular side-view mirror. If this is helpful, we will install it in all buses,” said Ekroop Caur, managing director, BMTC.
The smaller mirror will provide a larger field of view to help drivers detect when a vehicle pulls up on the left.
Experts prefer an electronic warning system. “There are systems that tell you if someone is present in the lane on your left, which is a safer option,” said M.N. Sreehari, traffic expert.
“They should look at complementing the departmental way of textbook training with more public interaction. Drivers need to understand the responsibility that they have when ferrying passengers. Making them interact with the public without the pressure of being on duty can help,” said Ravishankar, member of the city’s Traffic Advisory Committee, who has helped with training BMTC drivers.
"BMTC buses tend to drive on the extreme right lane leaving no choice but to overtake them from the left. However, when there is a bus stop, they move from the right lane to the left in a matter of seconds and most times they don't realise that there are people riding on their left," Surendra H., resident of Old Airport Road.
ITS to help monitor buses, catch violators
Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses on the road are generally viewed as smoke emitting, mechanical monsters that frequently break down and are involved in accidents. As a result, other motorists tend to give these buses a wide berth when travelling next to them.
But the corporation is trying hard to break this stereotype which was reinforced last week when two bike riders were killed in separate accidents when BMTC buses rammed their two-wheelers.
To tackle the issue of buses being driven rashly, measures to restrict the speed are being taken. “Our buses have speed governors, which limit the speed to 60 kmph. Besides this, our trainers are trained by an external agency who help them understand how to deal with drivers,” said Ekroop Caur, managing director, BMTC.
There’s also hope that the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) will help the corporation monitor buses and catch drivers violating the limits. “With the GPS tracker, we can detect drivers who exceed the speed limit as well as those who apply brakes suddenly. Such drivers are brought in for counselling,” Ms. Caur added.
Newer buses will have mechanisms to ensure that the bus does not move if the doors are open. The BMTC is trying to retrofit old buses with the same mechanism. There are also plans to scrap around 1,000 buses which are past their fleet age limits.