Data from the National Transit Database and from the Fatal Analysis Reporting System has long established pedestrians are more likely to be killed by bus collisions than by automobile collisions.

Unfortunately, transit agencies often lack the time, resources, and expertise necessary to study and combat this challenge. In 2014, the Federal Transit Authority contracted AEM to implement and assess a novel approach to this problem in the heavily trafficked downtown business district in Portland, Oregon.

With Portland State University and TriMet, the public agency that operates mass transit throughout Portland, AEM procured and installed several bus-based turn warning systems that combined auditory alerts with directional LED headlights. Our team then comprehensively evaluated the effectiveness of these warning systems, performing daily surveys of bus operators, focus groups with bus operators and pedestrians, and video observations of pedestrian behavior. The results of our demonstrations and cost-benefit evaluations revealed the clear value of this approach. Transit agencies can now make more informed decisions about this technological investment—a development that can lead to reduced injury claims and lower costs, as well as to safer environments for pedestrians and cyclists.