Trolley Accidents Involving Motorists’ Illegal Left Turns Eliminated in Downtown Area

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A Blue Line trolley departing from America Plaza on May 10, 2016. Megan Wood, inewsource.

For the past 17 months, there have been no trolley accidents involving illegal left turns by downtown motorists. For that, the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System has earned a safety award from the American Public Transportation Association.

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MTS was honored after implementing its “Anticipate-Recognize-Take Action!” campaign, which over the last 17 months has cut the left-turn accidents to zero.

The award was announced Monday at APTA’s annual rail conference in Denver, Colorado. This is the third safety award MTS has won in the last four years.

“Being recognized at the national level is great, but eliminating trolley accidents speaks volumes about our commitment to safety,” said Paul Jablonski, MTS chief executive officer. “Downtown is a growing community and the ART campaign is a remarkable success. MTS Trolley operators should take pride in this accomplishment, as should our rail safety department. They proactively identified the challenges, developed a comprehensive training program and worked collaboratively to get positive results.”

In the 19 months prior to the campaign, there were 10 accidents involving trolleys and motorists making illegal left turns at eight identified intersections on C Street and Park Blvd, according to MTS. In the 17 months after the campaign began, accidents were reduced to zero.

According to MTS, other safety benefits from the campaign included:

— 35 percent reduction in accidents system-wide

— 7 percent reduction in emergency brake applications

— 5 accident-free months

— 78 days accident-free between November 2017 and January 2018

The approach that MTS used to reduce collisions for the 350 daily trains that move through San Diego’s downtown core was two-pronged: The agency installed lane delineators and eye-level signs at eight high-incident intersections along Park Boulevard and C Street; it also implemented a defensive driving program for train operators focused on the downtown core.

Key elements of operator training included:

— Requiring all operators to participate in walk-throughs of high-incident downtown intersections

— Implementing LiDAR technology into classroom training, which similar to Google Street View in that it provides panoramic views from on-the-ground positions on downtown San Diego’s streets from MTS tracks

— Looping videos and photos of trouble spots on common area video screens

— “Rule of the Week” memos to reinforce safe operating techniques in the downtown core

–Staff

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