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Santa Monica Big Blue Bus Launches Program to Help Prevent Collisions
By Jorge Casuso
September 1, 2017 -- The Santa Monica Big Blue Bus (BBB) has launched a pilot program to install and test a state-of-the-art system that helps prevent collisions by alerting drivers of potential hazards, agency officials announced last month.
The one-year pilot program installed the Mobileye Shield+ Collision Avoidance System on 12 buses under a contract with Rosco Collision Avoidance, Inc. for an amount not to exceed $124,263, BBB officials said.
If successful, the pilot program -- which is funded by the State’s Proposition 1B Bond program for safety and security -- would be implemented full-scale on a permanent basis, officials said.
The buses are equipped with sensors that "allow for front and side-sensing capability of pedestrians and cyclists," making it easier for drivers to detect "potential collisions with these targets in time to stop the bus," staff wrote in a report to the City Council dated August 14.
The system also provides "detailed metrics and reports that staff will use to establish 'hotspots' for training and notifying staff of locations where there is a need to be aware of pedestrian and cyclist traffic."
The launching of the pilot program comes at a time when Santa Monica is seeing a record number of pedestrian fatalities.
So far this year, six pedestrians have been killed by motorists, five of the deaths occurring between March 4 and April 3 ("Pedestrian Killed Crossing PCH in Santa Monica," August 23, 2017).
Pedestrians and bicyclists account for approximately two-thirds of all severe injuries and fatalities sustained in traffic accidents in the popular beach city, according to police data.
In May, the Council ordered faster action on a sweeping re-design of city streets meant to embrace pedestrians and bicyclists and appointed a safe streets "czar" ("Santa Monica City Council Calls for Safe Streets “Czar,” May 11, 2017).
The action came little more than one month after the Council adopted a Pedestrian Action Plan that outlined strategies for reducing the number of severe injuries and fatalities resulting from crashes.
The number of pedestrians has been increasing with the arrival of the Expo light rail line last year and the addition of bike/pedestrian paths and downtown pedestrian scrambles, City officials said.
"It is imperative to remain proactive in the goal to reduce collisions and eliminate pedestrian fatalities," BBB staff wrote in the report.
Last year, the Washington State Transit Insurance Pool (WSTIP) tested the Shield+ system in transit buses operated by the eight largest transit systems in the state, staff said.
The tested systems experienced no rear-end or pedestrian collisions during the three-month trial period, staff said. One of the systems -- Pierce Transit -- is installing Shield+ on 176 buses.
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