Dions bus driver: pedestrians walk fine line

Dions bus driver Mark Hurley says many pedestrians put themselves in danger through inattentiveness. Picture: ANDY ZAKELIMark Hurley has been driving buses for 16 years and he’s learnt to keep a close eye on pedestrians.

“Mostly they are well-behaved,” the Dions bus driver said.

“But some stand on the kerb edge and dream. Others are in a hurry looking for cars but buses, I assume, are invisible because they are large and presumed to be slow. So they turn and run.”

The pedestrians that make him wary are those with their heads down looking at their phone or those looking anywhere but at the bus approaching.

“If you can get eye contact with them, that’s good because then you know that they’ve seen you,” he said.

“If they don’t, you have to come out a little bit from the kerb or slow up a little bit because you never know.”

Pedestrians also needed to be aware that it took more effort and time for bus drivers to monitor their surroundings than it did for someone in a car.

“Peripheral vision is a major asset but it takes a while to get from the right-side mirror to the left-side mirror while still watching traffic through the windscreen so people can just appear,” he said.

Bus accident on the corner of Crown street and Keira street Wollongong in October. Picture: Robert Peet

Mr Hurley said he had never hit a pedestrian but he had had everyone from a child chasing a ball to a senior citizen dart out in front of his bus.

“The thing they don’t understand is what’s going on inside the bus,” he said.

“There are lots of things that can fly around inside – like people. You don’t have to be going very fast to hurt someone inside the bus if you have to stop suddenly.”

It’s not just pedestrians that race out in front of the bus that he has to worry about. It’s also those who stand on the kerb.

“We’ve got a mirror that sticks out the side of the bus – it’ll take their noggin off. They stand right on the edge of the kerb and look straight ahead. They don’t seem to think it’s dangerous at all.”

The University of Wollongong is one area where he remains extra vigilant because a lot of students getting off the shuttle bus will cross the road in front of him and expect him to stop.

Areas where cars are parked on the side of the road, also pose dangers. It was not uncommon to see people standing between cars waiting for a chance to get across the road.

The worst intersection was Crown and Keira streets at the top of the mall, he said. The combination of the concrete dividers and pedestrians crossing diagonally across the intersection meant bus drivers had to keep their wits about them.

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