Mirrors, a problem: BMTC drivers

BANGALORE, MARCH 3. For Shantaveerappa (name changed), a Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) driver with 27 years of service, driving has become rather difficult of late.

The driver, who claims to have an excellent track record, feels the new side view wide-angle mirrors fitted in most of the BMTC buses actually distract attention, making driving troublesome.

The new mirrors are meant to make driving easy and reduce accidents. But, a cross-section of BMTC drivers say the mirrors don't help.

The BMTC is replacing the old, smaller mirrors with the big ones as prescribed under the Motor Vehicles (MV) Act. The drivers, however, feel the old ones were better.

"The old mirrors are better suited to be fitted in regular BMTC buses. The new ones are shaky and the reflection is not clear. Moreover, images that are far appear to be nearer and those that are very near look smaller," said a driver plying on the Majestic-Kamakshipalya route.

His view was endorsed by some of his colleagues. "The new mirrors are of no help. They have two portions that reflect different images. And, sometimes it is difficult to sense danger, especially while reversing the bus," said another driver on the Karnataka Housing Board (Basaveshwaranagar)-Shivajinagar route.

However, the BMTC Managing Director, Upendra Tripathy, told The Hindu that the drivers were finding it a problem to adjust to the change. "These mirrors are prescribed under the MV Act and we have to follow the rules."

"A lot of research has gone into the size of the mirrors and it has been found that they are best suited for heavy vehicles. Sometimes, the reflections are not proper because the drivers try to change the position of the mirrors. If fitted in the exact position, the mirrors can be of great help. It is a human trend to oppose any new change initially," he said.

The BMTC Director (Security, Vigilance, and Environment), M.S. Pasha, said some drivers had told him of the problem. "When we inspected the buses, we found that the mirrors were not fitted properly. We have rectified the problem," he said.

Over 1,600 of the 2,500 BMTC fleet had been fitted with the new mirrors and the rest would be covered soon. The 670 private buses hired by the BMTC were also undergoing the change, he explained.

With the smaller mirrors, there was a likelihood of not getting a proper view of vehicles coming near or behind the bus. Besides, the number of fatal accidents had decreased from 70 in 2002-2003 to 60 in 2003-2004.

Regular training programmes were being conducted for drivers and instructional films on how to avoid accidents were being screened for them, he added.