Sunday, September 15, 2019

Let's be certain to utilize the futuristic safety tools we already have

1st working draft

Dear Editor,

I have been living in Central Pennsylvania for two years now, after relocating here from Idaho.  Out West, I worked driving large trucks for 20 years, and also focused on aircraft safety at a busy Airline for six. In addition, I’ve been a frequent newspaper opinion contributor, sometimes writing with a strong emphasis on highway safety issues. 

Now, as a disabled person, I’ve been working at a Work Skills Program since 2018, and am grateful for this type of productive work. From my house, I catch the bus to and from work most days and have made some noteworthy observations along the way.  

The majority of my fellow bus passengers are also disabled and some don’t have much of a voice there, since their guardians or advocates are seldom aboard. I have noted some safety concerns, which fellow work colleagues rarely address (or perhaps simply don’t notice,) so I try to speak up for them and their equal rights for harmless environments. 

A top concern is this:  

One spring afternoon in 2018, while riding aboard a nearly-loaded public 12-passenger bus, the driver hit a long valley straightaway and sped up. Soon, on this undivided two-lane she started exceeding 80 mph in a posted 55 zone, and continued this rate steadily over our next 5 to 6 miles. I wish that my camera then would have been of enough high quality to zoom in to show this clearly. 

 Mobile Logic Unit assembly

Months later I experienced an interesting synchronicity when work management trained me for a new task of assembling “Mobile Logic Units” for bus fleets. When I asked our bus drivers about some of the inner workings of these black-box-like devices, they told me that these recorders transpose and save tremendous amounts of data. For instance, in areas where motorists exceed speed limits, the variegated maps are programmed to mark these spots, and indicate them with red flags.

I’m curious though if bus managers actually address any of these warnings about bending or breaking speed laws. Because by many standards operating a commercial vehicle at 25 mph over the posted limit is consider reckless driving – and with a bus full of nearly voiceless disabled people to boot! 

Coupled with previous bus experiences, my intuition niggles at me rigorously that perhaps they do not. And if PennDOT has authority to conduct audits for such vital bus information, I suggest this is something they consider investigating deeper, if they do not already do so. After all, why would our tremendous public bus services invest in expensive cutting-edge safety features if the management sometimes overlooks these, or perhaps willfully ignores them?

Indeed, endangering already disabled passengers like my work colleagues should be held as an uppermost consideration to be avoided at all costs. 

Thank you,

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