MADISON (WKOW) -- The death of a pedestrian in a collision with a Madison Metro bus has spurred Metro officials to equip half a dozen buses with left-turn alarms, with plans to outfit Metro's entire two hundred bus fleet with alarms, if the pilot project demonstrates more safety.
In June 2011, UW-Madison librarian Maureen Grant was killed when hit by a bus turning left onto University Avenue as Grant legally entered a crosswalk.
Officials determined the bus driver failed to compensate for a blind spot on the bus affecting left turns, and Grant did not see the turning bus in time.
Metro officials have already changed the position of the driver's side-view mirror on buses to increase visibility, but transit systems in Des Moines and some other cities have also been using audible, left turn alerts on buses.
Metro spokesperson Mick Rusch says the pilot project began with one bus equipped with the turn alarm.
Rusch says pedestrian feedback included concerns the turn-alarm could be tuned out, or misunderstood, because it sounded too much like the alarm of a large truck backing up. Rusch says the sound of the alarm was altered, and pedestrians now appear to be recognizing the alarm as the alert of a turning bus.
Veteran bus driver George Ward says he's had no problem with the new safety feature, which is activated when drivers touch a foot pedal to deploy the left turn directional signal.
Rusch says if the test use of the turn-alert continues to demonstrate a safety improvement, Metro officials would like to equip Metro's entire fleet of buses with the device by the end of 2013. Rusch estimates the cost at just under $50,000.
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