Blind spot clears driver

A possible design flaw is in question after a Bus Queensland driver is cleared of dangerous driving causing death

Blind spot clears driver
Blind spot clears driver

By Gary Worrall | September 4, 2012

Toowoomba bus driver Wesley Graeme Taylor, 68, was found not guilty of a dangerous driving charge in the Toowoomba District Court on August 31, with the jury agreeing the bus had a blind spot that obscured his view of pedestrians.

Taylor was charged with dangerous driving causing death after he struck Valerie Nelson, 73, at the intersection of Ruthven and Russell Streets, Toowoomba on June 21, 2011.

Although police agree Taylor was making a legal right turn, having received a green turn signal, Crown prosecutor Noel Needham says he had to give way to pedestrians.

At the time of the accident Taylor was reported as saying he did not see the pedestrians, with his counsel basing Taylor’s defence on having ‘a thick panel on the front right-hand corner of the windscreen’ that blocked his vision during the right turn.

With the jury finding in Taylor’s favour, it raises the issue for operators of modern bus design often obscuring drivers’ field of view at T-intersections.

Custom Coaches operations manager Steve Jackson says the requirement for rollover protection, as mandated by Australian Design Rules (ADRs) is not a competing issue, instead it is a design criteria that must be addressed.

Jackson says he is ‘amazed’ there are not more accidents, given the number of distractions for drivers in their daily operations.

"You have got to have a good driver’s environment, it must be ergonomic, from the placement of the ticketing machine to easy to read instrument panels."

To overcome the issue of blind spots at the front of the bus, Jackson says Custom Coaches use two uprights, separated by a vertical window, although he says the forward upright serves only as a frame for the front screen.

The second upright is the structural member, and forms part of the load bearing frame of the body, including providing rollover protection in conjunction with other uprights spread along the length of the body.

"When you design a bus, it must absorb a certain amount of energy, we probably build in more weight than is necessary, providing three horizontal hoops below the window line to create a ‘driver’s cage’," Jackson says.

"You then take the weight out of things that are not structural, such as lightweight flooring, wall panelling, seats and other items."

As a result, Jackson says the buses are lighter than aluminium-bodied buses, but ‘are strong enough to last 25 years’.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the ABC e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook