CTA to Test Technology to Prevent Bus Accidents by Evaluating Driver Behavior

July 10, 2007

Announces series of steps to improve safety

The Chicago Transit Authority will test a driver risk management system called DriveCam that is designed to monitor, evaluate and identify driving behavior of CTA bus operators as a means to prevent accidents, increase safety and reduce the cost of repairs and accident claims.

"By identifying driving behaviors ahead of time and intervening we can try and reduce the number of accidents on the system will have multiple benefits ? the most important being the safety of our customers. Fewer accidents means less cost to the agency and improves the skill set of our operators which makes them more successful as well," said CTA President Ron Huberman. "This technology will allow us to increase our proactive training efforts for bus operators and is another tool to improve safety."

DriveCam's palm-sized audio/video recorders will be mounted on the inside windshield of the bus behind the rearview mirror. Dual lenses will capture activities both inside and outside of the bus.

The device functions like a digital video recorder. Although it records throughout an operator's entire route, the system is triggered to only save recordings that are outside of normal driving parameters. Behaviors that trigger an unusual motion or force such as hard braking, swerving, rapid acceleration or deceleration, and actual collisions will trigger the recorder to save the 10 seconds immediately before and after the event.

Video from the saved events will be temporarily stored on the bus and automatically downloaded as the bus approaches the bus garage. CTA will then forward the video to DriveCam analysts, who will review the images and send daily, weekly and monthly reports to CTA to identify behavior that needs addressing.

CTA selected Chicago Avenue garage because it has numerous heavy traffic corridors that can present challenges for bus operators. The pilot program will last a year and involve approximately 300 buses that operate over 16 bus routes: #19 United Center Express, #20 Madison, #X20 Washington/Madison Express, #33 Mag Mile Express, #53 Pulaski, #54 Cicero, #X54 Cicero Express, #57 Laramie, #65 Grand, #66 Chicago, #70 Division, #72 North, #73 Armitage, #74 Fullerton, #76 Diversey and the #132 Goose Island Express.

Budgeted at $250,000, the CTA will use the yearlong pilot project to ascertain if accidents and related costs at Chicago Avenue garage drop as a result of using the DriveCam system.

Huberman also outlined other steps the CTA is taking to improve safety.

"When I came onboard the CTA 10 weeks ago, I committed that safety would be a top priority. After reviewing the circumstances of two recent incidents on our rail system, and completing a full debrief that included interviewing employees, reviewing protocols and getting customer feedback, it is clear to me that the CTA must improve our response to emergencies ? with a renewed focus on communicating to our customers and ensuring that their needs are responded to as promptly as possible," said Huberman.

The steps include:

  • Forming a task force made up of police, fire, OEMC and CTA to systematically review all of CTA's emergency protocols to ensure they are up to date and focused on safety and ensuring CTA is communicating with customers.
  • Re-training employees on communications and safety protocols starting with managers at the CTA's control center.
  • Scheduling a series of training exercises.
  • Establishing a safety hotline for employees to report any safety-related conditions that they observe.
  • Conducting an independent review of command and control systems.

?As I have made very clear to staff following these most recent incidents, we cannot measure our response just on our ability to diagnose a problem and implement a solution," said Huberman. ?Every employee, from the train operator to the person handling calls in the control center, to the staff responding to the scene ? they all have to keep the needs of riders in the forefront. "

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