TriMet considers changing left turn policy after deadly accident

TriMet considers changing left turn policy after deadly accident

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by Kyle Iboshi

kgw.com

Posted on May 5, 2010 at 12:32 PM

Updated Friday, May 7 at 10:18 AM

PORTLAND -- A federal study shows that bus-pedestrian collisions were more than twice as likely to happen during left turns.

The most recent example occurred two weeks ago, when a TriMet bus hit a group of pedestrians in Northwest Portland.

Police said the driver turned left from NW Glisan onto Broadway when she struck five people. Two of them died.

A federal study indicates left hand turns are much riskier for bus drivers than other maneuvers. In Cleveland, transit leaders recently installed a vocal alert system. It's the first in the nation. When a bus is turning, pedestrians now hear an audio warning.

Some transit lines require their bus drivers to honk before turning. A few have even banned left hand turns.

TriMet explained that banning left hand turns wouldn't work because of Portland's one-way streets. They also have concerns about verbal warning systems because there's already so much ambient noise. And pedestrians may get desensitized to hearing it so much.

However on Thursday, TriMet officials told KGW they were reviewing their left turn policy and were considering requiring their drivers to honk as they make left turns.

Spokeswoman Bekki Witt said it was all part of a "top-to-bottom safety review" in the aftermath of the fatal accident.

“We’re looking at safety measures that have been implemented all over the country,” Witt said.

Meantime, a grand jury will hear testimony from safety experts and witnesses as the investigation into the deadly accident continues.

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