Buses form the backbone of public transit operations in the United States and are a major means of intercity transportation. According to the American Public Transportation Association, Americans took approximately 5.1 billion trips by transit bus in 2015, accounting for nearly half of all transit trips.
As municipal and transit system budgets come under pressure, the sale of advertising (or advertising rights) on bus shelters and bus benches is increasingly prevalent. This trend is also expanding to include the use of other public space areas as a means to generate revenue of other public services. Advertisements on city buses, school buses, and even sanitation trucks can be found in U.S. cities.
Safety issues not being effectively addressed in most roadside advertising are directly related to distracted drivers of vehicles including:
• Cell phone/smart phone use — talking, reading email, social media and texting
• Standard and electronic sign distractions
Many additional distractions occur inside our vehicles including GPS use, video-watching, bad weather, tiredness, eating, drinking, looking for on-premise signs, talking and other similar distractions like advertising on bus benches.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has published a paper that evaluates the riskiest factors faced by drivers based on data collected by TRB’s second Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2) Naturalistic Driving Study (NDS). Crash causation has shifted dramatically in recent years, with driver-related factors (i.e., error, impairment, fatigue, and distraction) present in almost 90% of crashes. The results also definitively show that distraction is detrimental to driver safety, with handheld electronic devices having high use rates and risk.
“Crash risk factors were observable driver distraction, including the use of in-vehicle and handheld devices, active interaction with passengers, and outside distractions.” 3/8/2016 TRB Transportation Research Board of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
The authors are with the Center for Urban Transportation Research, University of South Florida, Tampa. Perk is Senior Research Associate, and Hinebaugh is Interim Executive Director. Perk serves as Vice Chair of the TRB Transit Capacity and Quality of Service Committee, and Hinebaugh is Chair of the Public Transportation Group and immediate past Chair of the Bus Transit Systems Committee.