Ed Yeates ReportingUTA bus drivers have a new weapon to help them steer away from collisions. Five new buses are equipped with what is called an "Accident Avoidance System."
While fatal accidents are a rarity with UTA buses, fender benders are not. That's why drivers are now getting another set of eyes; in fact, sets of eyes to keep watch outside.
Mike Hughes with UTA takes us on a demo ride. Built in sonar and radar sensors surrounding this new bus monitor what's moving close by, outside. As the bus and another vehicle close in on each other, two yellow lights on a left or right monitor come on, letting the driver know he's in a precautionary situation. If they get too close for comfort an audible alarm sounds.
John Inglish, General Manager, Utah Transit Authority: "Clearly, a bus operating in mixed traffic has got threats all around it. And the computer has to decide when the threat becomes a real potential conflict."
UTA General Manger John Inglish says the watchdog system costs about two to three thousand dollars per bus, but when you compare that with all the direct and indirect costs of repairing fender benders, it's worth it.
John Inglish: "It takes the vehicle out of service. We have down time, delay time. And plus the inconvenience to the customer who's sitting on the bus when the accident occurs. He now has to go through the whole process of accident investigation."
The system is especially valuable in keeping an eye on the driver's blind side. In a demo, a motor scooter passes the bus on the driver's blind side as he's pulling out. The system activates and he hits the brakes. Initial research shows a 60 percent reduction in accidents with buses equipped with these watchdogs.
John Inglish: "If you just look at the direct costs, this system pays itself off in two and a half to three years, that's on the basis of a bus that has a twelve year life."
For a fleet of 500 vehicles, those savings could reach 4 and half million dollars.