On-board cameras cut muni bus accident rates by 50 percent

In a city as congested and highly trafficked as San Francisco, municipal bus accidents seem to be part of the landscape. While these accidents may appear numerous and unavoidable, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has found a way to help bring those numbers down.

According to the SMFTA, bus accidents were reduced by 50 percent after a new video surveillance system was installed on the city's buses. The Washington, D.C., area also substantially reduced accidents by using a similar camera system.

DriveCam is activated when jarring events occur, including slamming on the brakes, jerking the steering wheel or accelerating suddenly. The cameras record the driver's actions as well as actions outside of the bus both prior to and after the event for just a few seconds. Supervisors are given an accurate account of any incidents, as well as documentation of how the driver handled the accident.

When coupled with additional training, these cameras are helping cut down on the number of reported accidents. It has also allowed the SFMTA to identify problem areas in the transit system and, when appropriate, remove problem drivers.

Cataloging the recorded incidents has allowed the agency to focus efforts on training drivers to avoid common traffic mistakes. This has cut down on the number of avoidable accidents by 33 percent, as well as unavoidable collisions by 57 percent, all in the first year the cameras were in use. The system has also helped drivers improve themselves. The agency reports that 20 of the worst drivers on the crew have been able to improve their performance after the installation of the system.

DriveCam is also an affordable system, so safety rates are increasing without a huge burden to the taxpayers. Of course, accidents will still happen, and when they do, people should consider contacting an attorney to discuss their case.