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Original post made
on Dec 30, 2010
I spoke to a witness who was stopped, waiting to turn right from Webster headed north as the woman walked across the crosswalk crossing University at Webster with the light being green for her. The woman was carrying several cloth shopping bags that were full, and wasn't exactly hard to miss.
The bus came from Webster heading south, and headed into the intersection, also on the green light. However, the bus driver didn't see the woman in the crosswalk and turned left into her.
He said the bus wasn't going particularly fast. There wasn't any blood on the front of the bus I could see, so she probably hit her head on the street.
Very sad occurrence for everyone concerned. Even the witness appeared upset.
bus drivers are unable to see what is immediately right in front of them because their cab is high. They also are unable to see sideways something much smaller than them . That's why school buses have crossing arms that extend and stop the pedestrian from being to close to the front of the bus. What is visible at street level may not be visible to someone with a different vision angle.
This type of potential accident is very common. I say "potential" because there are a lot of near misses that don't result in an accident. I had to jump for my life in Midtown a couple months ago.
I was crossing Middlefield Rd. with the walk light, in the crosswalk, and even the recording for the blind said it was time to cross. Then, suddenly, a car made a left turn, on a green light, from Colorado and was going fast, not looking for pedestrians, onlu other cars. If I hadn't been able to jump out of the way, he would have hit me. As it was, he never even looked at me so probably didn't see me. I coud not get a license # but did let the police know about the dangers at this intersection. Nothing is being done
So sad, My new years is ruined
Pedestrians and bicyclists in California are far too confident when they're out in the street. I can't count the number of times a pedestrian has stepped out in front of me without even looking. Sure, I stopped. But it's dangerous to *assume* that all the car traffic will stop. Yes the driver can be cited for failing to yield and can even be prosecuted. But YOU are the one who will lose your life. Always look both ways!
Please....let us ALL be a little more conscience of each other out there. Let us not be so self-absorbed in our own business that we forget to look around AND....look out for the other guy!
Please, PA employee, DON't let this ruin your New Year. You still have 365 days to make a difference. :)
I don't mean to point any fingers or anything, but looking at the street view of the intersection where the crash occurred (sorry, I don't remember what all the downtown intersections look like), the bus driver making the left turn must have been distracted, or something along those lines, because the intersection itself seems pretty large, and pedestrians would be conspicuous on such a wide-open road.
Please correct me if I'm completely wrong.
Wow - this is eerie - on South B and First St in San Mateo earlier this week I watched a young man push a baby stroller (with baby) as a SamTrans bus began to execute a left turn from the train station - and didn't stop! The man rushed across the street, fortunately, as it became evident that the bus driver wasn't going to stop. I watched in disbelief - afterwards, I realized I should have reported it - for all we know, it could have been the same SamTrans driver!
Unfortunately, when drivers are turning left they almost never look for pedestrians in the far crosswalk, even through left turning drivers are required by law to yield. Drivers are too busy looking for gaps in traffic to squeeze through. There is really nothing the pedestrian can do at that point since the vehicle is coming from out of their vision on the side and moving so much faster.
Palo Alto needs to consider changing the signal timing so that left turns are not allowed when pedestrians have a green light. Many other cities have already done this. And drivers need to slow down and pay a lot more attention.
Rest in peace.
Anon says"and pedestrians would be conspicuous on such a wide-open road."
It depends where the pedestrian was one when the bus turned. She may have been in any of the abundant blind spots that buses have. They are big and driver's cab tall. They can't see
anything that's right in front of them.
Pedestrians need to be more aware when crossing streets, even when they have a green light.
Lights need to be altered so that a green light does not put a turning vehicle (left or right) across a green pedestrian light. Other countries don't have lights that do this. We need to have lights that prevent drivers from turning by having red arrows until the pedestrian lights have changed to don't walk.
I agree that we need to get traffic laws changed so that drivers can't turn when pedestrians are crossing the street. It will make trips take longer, but the saved lives are worth it. I tried to cross at that same intersection in the exact same circumstances with my son when he was six. A Sam Trans bus came at us on a left turn, and I know the driver saw us because he looked right at us with a 'get the ____ out of my way' kind of face. I had to grab my son's arm and jerk him back hard to avoid being hit. After yelling at the driver, I memorized the bus number and called in a complaint. My son, now grown, still remembers it.
I feel so sorry for everyone involved, including the driver. Drivers, please be alert and look for pedestrians and cyclists, which means always looking BOTH ways before making a turn.
Another dangerous pedestrian crossing: Homer Avenue directly in front of Whole Foods Market. Most drivers do not stop when shoppers are crossing the street in the crosswalk to Whole Foods parking lot. They obviously feel they're too important!! You're another small dot on the planet, so get over yourselves! A traffic signal might help here.
The bus driver's cell phone record should be checked to see if he/she was talking on the phone at the time. It's BS that it difficult for the bus driver to see at that intersection. Just go take a look and position yourself where the bus would be located and you'll see that there is lots of visibility.
I have driven that route, and also executed that same turn, i have also almost hit a pedestrian at that same spot, although mine was at night. This was due to two factors... 1.buses have blind spots, just as your car or truck have...2.as a bus operator you are taught to notice everything around you...e.g. tree branches,people, cars, bikes,etc., however if you are distracted by one of these things,or other factors, sunlight for instance, it easy to not notice other things, OR People. I feel sorry for the victim and her family, and believe me, the bus Operator is suffering, i know this person and they wouldn't hurt any one in this manner... every one at the base was down trodden to hear about this, because it could happen to any of us, which is why Samtrans is so serious about training Operators. I feel for that Lady and her family, and this haunt this driver the rest of her life....One thing i say to every one, and that is to get eye contact before making any kind of move, if possible. And do not assume you are being seen.
This is just tragic for everyone, the victim, the victim's family, the bus driver and her family. Thoughts and prayers go out to all of them. While its probably too early to look much beyond this at this point, hopefully this will be an unfortunate catalyst for changes to make a very busy downtown a safer place for pedestrians and drivers alike.
Hey RightofWay! If I stood waiting for cars to stop or even yield for me to cross I would never make it to work (or out of the house)! Ever try crossing the Alma-El Camino (N) merge? It even has a big YIELD sign for the cars coming off Alma-- but I'm still wondering who they think the yeild sign is for. Obviously NOT the people who are trying to cross the street in the designated cross walk area. Really until you as a pedestrian walk out on the street NOBODY stops/slows down/yeilds for foot traffic!
I work at the corner of Webster and University and there were times when I walked the same crosswalk, I feared that the bus would not stop. Some drivers travel very fast down Webster and then whip the bus around the corner, narrowly missing me. I now wait until I make eye contact with the driver before I cross as some drivers do not appear to pay attention to pedestrians...
Make eye contact with the driver and wave one of your arms right up in the air so that he/she realizes you are on their way , or else wait until you are sure that no bus or truck is coming. It would also be a good idea for a "no turn on red" road rule to start at least being discussed. It's the norm in the East coast. Obviously, primarily one feels for the person who was killed.
JD Williams, positioning oneself at the intersection gives you no information about what any tall cab (bus, truck, some SUVs) driver can see. It only gives you info of what someone with no blind spots on itself and at the same eye level as another person can see .The facts of physics are a little immutable here. Buses drivers see as they go always a certain distance from the front of the bus. So if you are crossing directly in front of them or on the sides and you are smaller than them they can't see you no matter how careful they are. I hope you understand this otherwise you too are a candidate for an accident. In big cities this fact is part of parental admonition, advice and training-Make eye contact with the driver and wave one of your arms right up in the air-
If it's so hard for bus drivers to see pedestrians in common situations, why aren't buses equipped with sufficient mirrors etc. so that they have no blind spots? This is not rocket science.
"why aren't buses equipped with sufficient mirrors etc?
Because you can't put mirrors where the mirror itself becomes an obstacle to see out of the bus. In fact, newer and more sophisticated buses are equipped with cameras so that the driver can see what's around the bus. But I don't know of any municipality that has them. Cost? Is it the case that we want state of the art buses. but we don't want to pay for them? I don't know but that's not this forum.
My husband and I are out walking our dog for approx. an hour each day. No matter what time it is, we always see near misses for pedestrians and bikers. We don't cross at Middlefield and University or Middlefield and Lytton because of our concerns about the people that make the right turns on red racing through, scaring the sh.t out of us, even thought the pedestrian light is on. Even when you make eye contact, people seem annoyed that they have to wait for pedestrians to cross. We, usually, cross at Middlefield and Hamilton, but that has gotten crazy too. It's time to get rid of right turn on red.....it's dangerous!!!
Get down on your knees and say prayers for everyone involved. One woman lost her life and another's will never be the same. Life is fragile, we all need to slow down and give one another our undivided attention. Don't even get me started on the distracted drivers and pedestrians who are on their cell phones texting non-stop. Do you even know anyone who has ever gotten a ticket for texting or talking on their cell while driving? But you see them everyday....lots of them. There's a law that needs to be enforced and better yet, treat it like a
DUI.....take people's license away and make it affect their insurance.
As a high school student, I have crossed that intersection many times this Winter Break to volunteer at an organization right at that intersection. Luckily, I have never and will never cross that particular intersection if I see a bus or car preparing to turn. I guess I've learned why this is a good method from this story.
My father always tells me the exact same thing: that the driver may be at fault but in the end it is the one who was in the right that pays the price. My thoughts go out to anyone was involved and/or witnessed this scene.
Traffic circles. They work. I know they tried it in college park, but its unclear why they were removed. Just because they were invented in another country doesn't mean that it will not work.
Drivers of buses like this one have an excellent field of view. Look at the photos accompanying the article. The driver's head is not much above that of a pedestrian, and the windshield extends way down below the steering wheel. The side windows also provide excellent viewing area. There is simply no excuse for a professional driver not seeing a pedestrian in a crosswalk. We don't need any more laws because the ones we have already cover this. We need better drivers.
pedestrian in traffic,
You raise a good point. Cameras are cheap. You can get a back-up camera at Frys for $30. Monitors aren't much more either.
Hardware to outfit a SamTrans bus with multiple cameras, to cover all blind spots, around $500
When all of this is said and done, and the lawyers have gotten a settlement, I'll bet what Sam Trans paid in settlement would equip all buses in the fleet, and train all drivers for the next 10 years.
I experienced also crossing the crosswalk in El Camino Real and Arroyo South San Francisco. The vehicles were turning left on green light while pedestrians are crossing at the same time. Some drivers did not even bothered to stop while there were pedestrians crossing. Would you believe, even the police car did not stop when pedestrians are crossing! In other side, pedestrians and bicycles are not respecting the red lights and the crosswalks. Wake up everybody, we need more disciplines. Safety first!
University is such a busy street between Middlefield and Alma. It requires cars to drive slowly so that driver's can watch for changing lights, vehicles backing out or trying to parrallel park, cyclists and people crossing streets. I don't think that buses should even be allowed on that section of University. There really isn't enough room for them to navigate safely. Buses in general don't watch out for vehicles passing them at a bus stop and will move out from their stop even when there is a car right next to them, in any spot, including where you can see the driver. I've had this happen when the bus starts to pull over then decides to not actually stop and pull right back out nearly hitting me. This was such a tragic accident and I hope that the city will decide that buses don't need to be on that part of University.
Someone above put it nicely:
"Lights need to be altered so that a green light does not put a turning vehicle (left or right) across a green pedestrian light."
I have always wondered why this is allowed here! It's so dangerous. If you are crossing a street that a car to your right is turning left across your path onto, you're competing for the chance to make your move. And when the pedestrian is in the car's path, the car is at their back. It's horrendous trying to cross major street's here, so scary. The set up is inherently dangerous and needs to be changed.
I am so sorry for everyone involved in this tragic situation. I hope it is a wake up call for change finally.
C'mon you guys, look at that first photo. The driver had excellent visibility both in front and to the left. A camera would not have made things any better than it already was. She clearly wasn't paying attention. How do you hit someone and not notice: the inside of those buses are silent at the front because the engine is 40 feet back.
All the cameras in the world wouldn't solve the problem of an inattentive driver whose sole job it was not to hit anything.
Whenever a pedestrian, even when crossing legally on green, or a cyclist is killed by a vehicle, the car crowd finds excuses for the driver and blames the victim. It's nonsense that the bus driver couldn't see the victim, the driver wasn't paying attention. Taking into account the intelligence level of the average American driver, traffic design must be changed so that every lighted crossing has a pedestrian green light and vehicles have a red light and no possibility of turning, either right or left, while a pedestrian has a green arrow. This will save many lives each year. We should also eliminate the ability to turn right on red.
Posting a picture of the body bag is disgusting!
Nobody is making excuses for this particular accident. But facts are facts. The accident may not have been caused at all by inattentive behavior, because drivers have to pay attention to a myriad of signals simultaneously. Analysis will clarify the causes.
Pedestrians have the right of way on a crosswalk. That means that if they are already there or give a clear sign of their intentions the vehicle has to let them go. But if they are not on the crosswalk when the vehicle starts it's turn , then they don't have the right of way.. Jumping suddenly in front of a vehicle in order to cross even on a legal crosswalk doesn't give any pedestrian the right of way. The DMV booklet so informs you. In practice, we try all to be very careful and try to guess intentions, slow down. etc, but accidents happen despite best intentions. I am mostly a pedestrian, mainly because of where I live.
Donald, you are not right at all. If you seat where the bus driver seats you cannot see IMMEDIATELY in front of you because the bottom part of the bus is opaque and no human being is capable of tilting their eyes so that the straight lines of light that give us vision can bend 90Âº downwards by themselves. Seeing through an opaque surface is not possible and bus drivers (SUVs, trucks, van, etc) have their eyes at a distance from the windshield so, in fact they are not able to see you if you are too near the bus. Also, bus drivers can't see to the immediate right of the bus even with the mirrors if something is not visible in the mirror (mirrors are unidirectional) like a small object or pedestrian.I have been on bus in Sam Mateo county occasionally in the front with the driver while the bus is parked to receive high school students and those who pass too near the front of the bus can't be seen. Sometimes you can see a bit of a head on a tall person. School buses similar to the SAM buses(maybe not all school districts I don't know)have retractable crossing arms precisely so that children and adults can been seen. Putting those crossing extension arms on the buses was the result of too many serious and fatal accidents with children and adults . So maybe you think that the experts and authorities that require such crossing arms are less smart than you, don't know physics and require buses crossing arms just for fun.I'm afraid I can't teach physics by correspondence. Get an elementary optics book and then you understand.
I have been vacationing in a (big) city where all turns on red are forbidden. We should concentrate on pushing for this feature. It saves lives.
Sooner or later we (the US) needs to see that some sort of collision avoidance systems are developed so that drivers are given a technological assist in helping them drive safely.
DRIVER-VEHICLE INTERFACE REQUIREMENTS FOR A TRANSIT BUS COLLISION AVOIDANCE SYSTEM:
These sorts of ideas have been around for a while, but never developed into working, reliable, systems that can be added to buses for everyone's safety.
It's time ..
One more safety tip, use signals. Cars, buses, trucks and yes, even bikes, should use signals always when turning. It takes away a lot of the guess work for other road users.
Dear poster "pedestrian in traffic",
Your first sentence says:
"Nobody is making excuses for this particular accident."
Your entire post is making escuses for the driver!!!! Who are you? And what is your motive? The tail end or your post becomes rude and you ask folks to read physics (optics in particular!!!) Do your underestimate the science background of Palo Altans living in the heart of Silicon Valley?
The downtown has a HUGE problem with jaywalkers. The police really needs to start ticketing people for blatantly walking in front of cars with the right-of-way. We should see in increase in these type of cases, since pedestrians completely disregard the NO WALK red lights.
[Yes, I understand that this case might not apply, but I am just saying...]
Auckland, New Zealand has solved the pedestrian problem at traffic lights. Pedestrians have to wait until the lights run their usual cycle. Then,there is an additional cycle when ALL traffic is stopped in all directions and pedestrians can cross in all directions. When I was there, I felt very safe as a pedestrian when crossing the street. Just people- no cars. Any reason why we can't do that?
Was it necessary to show a bodybag to report this story? I realize the weekly/Palo Alto Online are desperate for readers, but this strikes me as the kind of sensationalism you'd see in a supermarket tabloid. I'm not for censorship, but with press freedom should come a small measure of responsibility and good sense. Yes, tell the story but do it without lurid visuals!
New Zealand may be one end of the spectrum. Here's the other:
Of all the people that stopped to look and take pictures, not one offered to help. Disgusting.
Ax to grin,
As I said repeatedly, I am mainly a walker who has difficulty in convincing her insurance company that she puts less than 100 miles/year in her car. I have lived in a very large cities (that I visit frequently) and I have been a suburban dweller for a long time too. I think I'm aware of the difficulties of being a pedestrian in Palo Alto. My posts comes from the awareness of the limitations of large vehicles and how it affects the pedestrian. The only accident I had as a pedestrian was with a biker who run me over while the biker run a red light (that been on for a few seconds). If you prefer not to know you how accidents are likely to happen aren't you more likely to become a casualty?
My experience with Palo Altan pedestrians and drivers is similar to the ones described by several people on these posters- sometimes they risk to much in the expectation that the vehicle can stop suddenly.. Who's right or wrong legally is irrelevant because ultimately a vehicle is large and any collision with a pedestrian is bound to be bad news for the pedestrian.
" The tail end or your post becomes rude and you ask folks to read physics (optics in particular!!!) Do your underestimate the science background of Palo Altans living in the heart of Silicon Valley?"
Obviously, I didn't underestimate somebody's science background if they repeatedly demonstrate that even a simple concept as "light rays are unable to bend 90º( without help of a gizmo to be precise)" is too hard for them to process. Those are facts.
I see that some posters are busy trying not to understand the circumstances in which the accident happened so that when it happens again,they can claim they haven't learn anything from other accidents. Who would 've thought, they will say, that something like this could've happen?
A high school knowledge of elementary optics and my experience riding a bus are not an ax to grind- they are elements of safety. If facts offend you, I can't help you, but please stop your ad hominem attacks to me- it shows you haven't much of of an understanding
of the accident and blaming the driver to exhaustion seems to me to be what you give your best to. Well, the driver's employer is liable and the driver's surely understands that whatever the circumstances of the accident she is likely to be held responsible. So, what purpose does it serve to repeat that the driver is to blame? What is gained by trying hard not to reason and not to learn?
Sometime ago the car I was in was crashed head on by a small truck that and crossed the center divider 6 ft into our lane. Driver and passengers were hurt. The truck driver who was very apologetic said he had been blinded by sudden glare at the curve (he was driving eastward in early morning). I have not spend my time blaming him. He was deemed liable. I tried to understand how it happened and now I avoid that particular east/west narrow road. And, no, I don't hate him and don't rant about it. It's not useful.
No doubt the authorities will come to a conclusion as to this accident- was it negligence on the bus driver part or bad luck? They will then either charge the driver or let tort law deal with it. We do not know where exactly the pedestrian was respect to the bus when she was run over, we don't know the bus speed, whether blinkers were on, etc, we seem to know very little about this accident to conclude that we are so careful that a similar accident couldn't have happen to us. I wait eagerly the report on the accident and as I said
on one of my posts "Obviously, primarily one feels for the person who was killed" and "I have been vacationing in a (big) city where all turns on red are forbidden. We should concentrate on pushing for this feature. It saves lives."
When it comes to attributing blame to accidents, it is not always the same as attributing cause.
The number of near miss accidents I have witnessed are not as many as the number of accidents I have witnessed. Generally speaking, a lot of near miss accidents are because of one party making a mistake and the other party managing to avoid a collision. These are never recorded but they tend to be worth taking into account. Consequently, many accidents happen because of one party making a mistake and the other party is unable to avoid the collision.
Generally speaking I would imagine that accidents usually happen because of more than one event. For example, the sun blinding a driver while a pedestrian foolishly steps into a crosswalk assuming that the driver will stop.
We should all look on places where pedestrians/bikes/vehicles merge as places of possible danger. We should all signal our intentions, use our eyes and ears, and train ourselves to be prepared for the unexpected. As has already been said, it is not worth it to be in the right but dead.
Correction to my 2nd paragraph above.
The number of accidents I have witnessed are not as many as the number of near miss accidents I have witnessed.
pedestrian in traffic,
"I have not spend my time blaming him"
They are just attributing fault, which you clearly also did. I doubt the bus driver was being malicious, however the driver was at fault from the description given. Fault is not about intent. The bus driver had a responsibility to turn the bus safely and the driver failed that responsibility with tragic results that will probably haunt the driver for the rest of her life. That pedestrian paid a high price for the driver's unfortunate neglect. I am sure the driver did not mean to kill the pedestrian and I am sure she is a nice human being, but non the less, it was her fault.
This is a tragedy for both the driver and the victim. This incident will haunt the driver for the rest of her life because she did not have her full attention to the rode way when she was driving. The victim was my best friends older sister who also lost their mom this past year. This is a very tragic lost for the Barker family. Our prayer's go out to the Barker family.
Last September, I was hit and knocked down by a car in a pedestrian crosswalk at 2 pm on a week day at the intersection of Lytton and Emerson. I had the green light, the driver was on his cell phone, and was turning left to beat the red light and "didn't see me". Fortunately for me, he didn't run over me, and I made it through with only scrapes and bruises. As it happened, two Palo Alto police officers were at the intersection at the time, investigating a previous accident, but "they didn't see it happen, and didn't see the guy on his phone" so they were unable to give him a ticket for hitting a pedestrian while using his phone during driving.
As a result of the accident, I really give each driver a good hard stare before daring to enter a crosswalk. You can't trust anyone out there to be thinking and driving at the same time.
Pedestrian in traffic, you are missing the point here. This was a left turn and the bus should have had ample time to see anyone in the crosswalk. The bus driver does have to pay attention to many things, but when turning is is imperative to watch out for pedestrians in the crosswalk. This was in the morning in broad daylight. No need for a lecture on optics. Yes, when driving we all have blind spots and therefore must take extra caution to check what is there. But this woman was legally crossing the street.
As for getting rid of turning right on red, I don't think that will help matters much. Most drivers who turn right on red check the crosswalk. The problem for pedestrians is when the light turns and the driver just makes the right turn even though you the pedestrian have right of way. I always try to make eye contact but am amazed at how many drivers seem unaware of the pedestrians right of way.
I didn't see this very sad story until today. It just makes me shiver to think that someone was caught by a bus like this.
I don't care what the law says (actually I do of course) - people have to have the right of way because a motor vehicle cannot get hurt. Anyone using University to try to move through Palo Alto as fast as they can is going to end up missing something.
Yes, we have lots of people walking around there ... that is what it is there for ... don't we want more people walking downtown?
How really awful, I am so sad for this woman, and even the driver, and anyone else in proximity to see such a horrible thing.
Trying to place guilt is not the point, the point is how does happen, and what kind of mindset need to be encouraged so it never happens again.
That could be any of us, on either side of the event, you never know until tragedy hits you, and then you finally think and regret.
Just sorry to hear about this. I am also sorry to hear people clumsily blurt out things and go at each other at a time and moment like this. Certain comments are just depressing and I wish people would just keep quiet at times.
We all have the power to walk into danger when we are out and about, and we all have the power of life and death over people when we are operating a motor vehicle, and sometimes the meeting of those two dynamics meet and things change. Sometimes with the news I read it makes me think the whole world is involved in this ... we all could be much more thoughtful.
I've driven downtown palo alto......driving thru the Wholefoods area and sometimes pedestrians really think that they don't need to stop at all and continue walking thru. Pedestrians have the right away ..at a crosswalk yes... BUT if a car is already into the crosswalk please STOP...! You don't have the right of way because the car has entered the crosswalk..! Gosh...I seem to run into this problem most of the time.Im not sure about this incident because I dont know the specifics but nevertheless it's so sad. I've tried to avoid going thru that area period.
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