Via Portland Afoot, I just read this letter to the editor (the last one) where someone suggests replacing the mirrors on buses with cameras to prevent blind spots that may have contributed to the recent left-turn incident that killed two women.
I will now demonstrate, with one picture, why this is a really, really bad idea:
This is what happened during freezing fog two winters ago. It doesn’t take much to mess up a camera – moisture, ice, debris, and your visibility with it is gone. This particular iced up camera at least happened in a car that had mirrors. I know I’m not the only one curious how well the Type 4s (which have only cameras, no mirrors) are going to fare when we get a severe winter storm – we were lucky this past season!
There’s also another car, I forget which number but I think it was a type 2, which has an interesting mirror quirk that an operator who is a friend of mine pointed out to me when I got on his train a few months ago – the right camera mapped to the left monitor, and the left camera mapped to the right monitor. He noticed this servicing a platform when he looked at the camera monitor that should have corresponded to the side he opened the doors, saw trackway and not platform, and had a brief “OMG opened doors on wrong side!” moment (which is a rule violation since it’s a safety hazard). Then he realized, no, he opened the doors on the correct side, but the camera on that side was showing him the wrong side of the train. So he called in the malfunction and relied on his mirrors instead.
Now picture that happening on a bus… especially one that’s had its mirrors replaced by cameras – the left-side monitor for whatever reason displays the view from the right-side camera and the right-side monitor displays the view from the left camera. Would you want to be walking, driving, or cycling anywhere near that bus? I wouldn’t!