MADISON (WKOW) -- A Madison Metro bus driver and union steward says the sound of left-turn alarms is too disturbing inside buses for Metro to expand a pilot project of the alarms to the system's entire fleet.
Driver Sharon Williams says the beeping sound of the turn alarms during many hours behind the wheel has caused headaches for drivers.
Williams also says the alarm sound outside the bus has been mistaken on at least one occasion for the sound of an emergency vehicle, causing a nearby motorist to veer through an intersection.
Metro officials say the trial of the left turn alarms was prompted by a June 2011 fatal collision between a left-turning Metro bus and a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Officials say a blind spot on the bus, and the driver's failure to adjust her sight line led to the crash, with the pedestrian never noticing the turning bus, until it was too late.
Transit systems in Des Moines and several other cities already use the left-turn alarms to alert pedestrians.
A Metro spokesperson says the initial, alarm sound used in the Madison pilot program sounded too much like the back-up alarm of a truck or other heavy vehicle, and was modified.
Williams says Metro's adjustment of driver side-view mirrors on the buses in its fleet has improved visibility, and addressed the driver blind spot on left turns. Williams also says the overall safety record of Metro drivers is good.
The pilot program of turn-alarms involves six buses. A Metro spokesperson says if the fleet's 209 buses are equipped with left turn-alerts, the work would likely be completed in 2013 at a cost of just under $50,000.
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