Do you know what a “lazy left turn” is?
That is a term used to describe an instance in which a driver of a commercial vehicle — a large truck, for example, or a bus — turns left or right in less than exacting fashion.
In other words (and here we go again with descriptor assists), it is a “banana-shaped” rather than a sharp 90-degree turn.
The latter is far more preferable, according to a recent article discussing the high number of pedestrians and bicyclists struck by turning buses. A driver making a harder-angled turn “experiences fewer blind spots,” notes the Seattle Times, and that confers a visual advantage in what is sometimes a literal life-or-death maneuver.
There is no question that walkers and bikers are routinely imperiled by commercial vehicles making turns. One estimate posits that about 600,000 pedestrians and cyclists die each year globally when struck by large vehicles.
That obviously raises a big concern for safety officials in American cities. The above-cited article chronicles the rollout of a new study that will examine safety systems recently employed on a number of buses across Washington state. When software incorporated on those buses determines that someone is within the short window of three seconds of being hit by a driver, an icon on the bus dashboard will flash. At one second, it will flash with more urgency and be coupled by an alarm.
The obvious hope is that buses in urban environments will hit fewer people. Reportedly, other states — including California — are also looking into such systems.