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Author Topic: Eagles and accidents...  (Read 2845 times)
Clarke Echols
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« on: January 03, 2007, 05:14:21 PM »

It's never pleasant to hear of accidents -- especially involving fellow bus nuts.

I'm posting on a new topic so this can get better attention.

First of all, the CDL driver manual states that you should not follow the vehicle in front of you any closer than the distance you would travel in 1 second for each 10 feet of vehicle length plus 1 second if you are driving over 45
miles per hour.  For a 40 foot bus going 60, that is 5 seconds times 88 feet which is about 450 feet.

Now just try doing that on a freeway where cars are 30 feet apart in rush hour and travelling at 75 mph!!!!!
Recipe for a major disaster.

If you are in a high-profile vehicle (such as a bus) or in a low-profile vehicle, it makes sense to get farther
back and let several cars take up the space.  That way, if something goes wrong up ahead, you can
respond while the cars in front are also responding.  [Of course, if you're not paying attention, you
can pack a bunch of them together while you plow into and through them.  Not good.]  Even better, if
there is a truck ahead, try to get in another lane.  But ALWAYS KEEP AMPLE DISTANCE BETWEEN YOU AND
ANY POSSIBLE OBSTRUCTION TO YOUR VISION AHEAD!!!!!!!!!

NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER get directly behind a truck, no matter what you are driving
if you can avoid it.  Let somebody else tailgate if they feel so inclined, no matter how heavy the traffic
or how late you are to an important appointment.  Better late than dead.

Now for the purpose of my post:

I was in the Greyhound shops in Denver back in the 1980s when the shop foreman was showing me around.
This was not long after Greyhound absorbed Continental Trailways.  They had Eagles and MC-9s all over the
place, and he was telling me about the advantages of torselastic (or whatever the proper term is) suspension
versus air ride and the "sports-car" performance of the independent suspension on the Eagles that made them
so nice.

BUT

He also pointed out that the DOMINANT cause of injuries in accidents was collisions in front of the
driver's seat and the DOMINANT injury was loss of legs.  Why?  Because the driver is not at the standard
floor level.  Instead, the cockpit is well below the main deck level.

Result:

18-wheelers have trailer floors positioned about 4 feet above the pavement.  If the cockpit of the bus is at
that level or higher, the floor frame in the bus strikes the floor or above it.  If the cockpit is below 4 feet,
the trailer floor (which is beyond "rigid") acts like a knife, cutting into the front of the bus.  The driver has
no prayer of escaping without serious injury because his only protection is the front wall of the bus above
the floor.  It might as well be a tin can.  It crushes and that's the end of the driver.

That's why when I was building a bus (looks like it won't get finished due to a host of circumstances),
I designed the front with a solid steel plate deck, wall-to-wall, for the first four feet, and it was welded to
steel I-beam frame rails going back into the front suspension system.  It would be a lot worse on the bus
in a collision, but the driver would have a less brutal encounter with the front end.

In a car, you have the "ICC" bumper below the floor that is intended to stop a car from going underneath.
Some of these are structurally so weak that they would bend or break and the car would still go under.
Still, it cleans out the engine compartment and jams it into the passenger compartment if the car is
small and low to the ground.  More reason to stay far behind a truck where you can see enough to have
a snowball's chance of responding.  SUVs in front of you are another problem -- especially when driven
by people with an air of superiority and an attitude while driving.  Those "Hummers" are a real piece of
art.  A fancy-shmancy body on a Chevy Suburban chassis with a fancy-shmancy price tag to impress the
neighbors, but still a mediocre power train and structural foundation.  And they are so high, big, and
wide, that they are a real annoyance in tight traffic.  It's amazing what people are willing to shell out
money for...

That, in a nutshell, is why I have never been very keen on owning an Eagle.

Accidents happen, and I prefer to keep the odds in my favor whenever possible.

Clarke
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brojcol
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« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2007, 05:54:35 PM »

Clarke,

The army designed tanks to be the toughest, roughest vehicles on the planet, but you can still get killed or seriously injured in one.  And not just from a bomb or an attack.  Anything that can come to an abrubt stop due to an impact, has the potential to kill you.   

Point is, you just cannot prepare for every contingency.  Be careful, but live life.  I have seen a lot of bus converters in my short time in the hobby, give up on their conversions half-way through because they cannot get satisfied.  I think welding a frame into the front end of a bus for safety reasons is a great idea, but you are planning for a contingency that would probably never happen.  And at a cost to other improvements that would make your "ride" more enjoyable. 

We could all probably think of a half-dozen horror stories about bus accidents, but realistically, how many are on the road that DO NOT end up in accidents. 

And also, you could do absolutely everything right and still get involved in an accident.
 
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« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2007, 07:32:22 PM »

Sorry Clark but your all wet on this one! It doesn't matter what your in such as an Eagle, GMC MCI Prevost or whatever, you can STILL have an impact largre or small, fast or slow, and it can de-limb you or kill you. It doesn't matter what bus your in, it still depends on YOUR driving abilities. I've seen cars that were in crashes where the people driving them were de-limbed or killed and I've seen some that would make you wonder how the hell they ever survived. If it's your time bud, it's your time!

Don't BLAME the Eagle bus because you feel it's unsafe. That's YOUR opinion and rightfully entitled to it, but it is NOT the bus that kills you, it's the dumbass driver that does, not that all drivers are dumb asses because UNAVOIDABLE accidents DO, AND WILL ALWAYS HAPPEN even to the best drivers on the road!  I have owned an Eagle but don't now but this time I'm sticking up for the bus.

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Ace Rossi
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« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2007, 04:45:19 AM »

Clark,

Your post has a lot of valuable points in it. In most cases it is the vehicle in front that does not react in time for various reasons. The distance in front of you, following a truck, car or Hummer is very important. Your thought is well received.

But......There are some very dumb drivers out there who think of nobody but themselves.....That makes it difficult for all of us. We just have to do the best we can, always looking ahead on the road for any red lights.

I think any bus or truck has a problem when making an emergency stop. Some people think we can stop on a dime, far from the truth.

Watch, look and listen.

Happy Trails,

Paul

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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2007, 06:53:54 AM »

Drive defensively. 4 second following distance. Look ahead, far ahead. Pay attention to your driving, 100% of the time. 99% of accidents are avoidable.

JC
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JC
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« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2007, 07:03:20 AM »

Clarke, I understand and can appreciate your observations.  I think it is important for every driver to be aware of the risks and limitations of their vehicle.  And I agree that some vehicle designs might put the driver at more risk than others.  That said, I have an RTS.  If I rear ended a truck it would probably cut me in half.  But I chose the RTS because I wanted it for the positive attributes.

I believe firmly in safe driving practices and believe that most accidents are avoidable if everyone drives skillfully.  The problem is that  no matter how skilled of a driver you are, you can't count on other drivers to be careful.  So we have to drive extra careful to offset the failure of others to do so.  In my opinion, the two most common mistakes that RV drivers (both converted buses and S&S's) make are driving tired and failing to leave enough braking distance ahead.

I am impressed with the creativity and skill of Clarke's efforts to improve the safety of the drivers area.  But if I were skilled enough, my approach would probably be to raise the driver out of the "knife zone" and create a "sacraficial crunch zone" at car level rather than creating my own heavy steel knife.  If I am guessing correctly, such a steel plate would be just about the right height to shear a car or minivan at head level.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to improve our own safety, but I wouldn't want to increase the risk to innocent others just to protect me.  There was a post in another forum recently that I think says it well:

Quote from: Les Lampman
What if it had been an SUV in front of him instead of the semi-truck? He'd have likely killed everyone in the vehicle and maybe walked away from the accident without much injury. That one thought used to run through my mind constantly when I was on the road with my big rig; if I hit anything other than another semi or a fixed object I was probably going to kill someone (or several someones). So in addition to taking care of your self (and your passengers) by making sure your vehicle performs as it should (and you do too) you also need to be aware than you can inflict serious, and deadly, damage on other vehicles.


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roadrunnertex
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« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2007, 07:30:41 AM »

I am not going to get in to the conversation of which coach is better or worse than others when it comes to a rear end accident situation.
Always  remember Folks you are always the first one there in a rear end accident.
But I am going to say those famous words from my Daddy who was a Greyhound driver for over 40 years.(1934-1975)
When I started driving a car over 50 years ago he told me what ever you do Son (DON'T follow to close) and to this day when I am driving my car or my bus I can still hear those words plain and clear.
jl Vickers

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« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2007, 08:09:58 AM »

Well, here's my take on the matter. . . I want to know every single thing I can learn about my bus. . .and about other busses.  I want to know what good about the model, I want to know what's bad about it.  I want to know if the tires have a tendency to fall off. . . if the motor has a tendency to run hot. . . if it doesn't like to stop going downhill. . . if it's weak in a certain area. . . if it's strong in another.  I want to learn as much as possible (in case no one noticed, ha ha), because I've always said that knowledge is power, and then I can make better decisions, decisions that are based on the facts. 

Now, this doesn't mean that we have to freak out  Shocked or put more emphasis than necessary on one aspect of a bus or another, but I really appreciate every tidbit of info that is passed on, that gives me a better overall knowledge of the vehicle I'm investing so much time and energy into, and the vehicle I'll be hurtling 65 mph down the road. Wink

The members of these forums have such varied backgrounds and there is such a wide range of knowledge out there, that there will be times when people disagree, and I recognise that not every fact is a "fact", but I think reasonably intelligent people can take the information that is presented and separate the chaff from the grain, so to speak.  So, for me, I prefer that you share your knowledge and experience, give my your opinions, and let me decide whether I want to use that info or not. 

If you guys will do that, I promise I will keep sharing our mishaps,  Huh ahem,  Wink "adventures" with you too! Grin

So, keep the stuff coming boys, and I'll let you know when you've overwhelmed me. . come on, I dare you, give it your best shot!  Cheesy  Christy Hicks
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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2007, 08:18:09 AM »

Well, here's my take on the matter. . . I want to know every single thing I can learn about my bus. . .and about other busses.  I want to know what good about the model, I want to know what's bad about it.  I want to know if the tires have a tendency to fall off. . . if the motor has a tendency to run hot. . . if it doesn't like to stop going downhill. . . if it's weak in a certain area. . . if it's strong in another.  I want to learn as much as possible (in case no one noticed, ha ha), because I've always said that knowledge is power, and then I can make better decisions, decisions that are based on the facts. 

Now, this doesn't mean that we have to freak out  Shocked or put more emphasis than necessary on one aspect of a bus or another, but I really appreciate every tidbit of info that is passed on, that gives me a better overall knowledge of the vehicle I'm investing so much time and energy into, and the vehicle I'll be hurtling 65 mph down the road. Wink

The members of these forums have such varied backgrounds and there is such a wide range of knowledge out there, that there will be times when people disagree, and I recognise that not every fact is a "fact", but I think reasonably intelligent people can take the information that is presented and separate the chaff from the grain, so to speak.  So, for me, I prefer that you share your knowledge and experience, give my your opinions, and let me decide whether I want to use that info or not. 

If you guys will do that, I promise I will keep sharing our mishaps,  Huh ahem,  Wink "adventures" with you too! Grin

So, keep the stuff coming boys, and I'll let you know when you've overwhelmed me. . come on, I dare you, give it your best shot!  Cheesy  Christy Hicks


Christy,.......Ummm.....Good Answer!

Nick-
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2007, 09:08:38 AM »

Some great points some not so great points. As a Fire/Medic for over 15 years, Eagle owner for 2 and a part-time Truck driver (to pay for the bus) I look at it this way. Ive seen people in 10 mph accident with a seat belt on die and I have seen people crash at well over 100 mph walk away. Point is anything can happen so try to avoid them and not drive fast and dont follow to close. Be safe.
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« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2007, 11:02:23 AM »

The comment in the original post "NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER EVER get directly behind a truck" is interesting because when driving the bus I have always felt more comfortable following a truck than a car - on the basis that cars are far more likely to brake sharply and / or do other odd things than a truck is.

I have always felt very vunerable driving the bus simply because there is nothing between you and what you're about to hit other than a big sheet of glass. Although I understand the point about building extra protection into your bus to reduce the risk of losing legs etc in an accident, I suspect you are fighting a losing battle when you consider just how much momentum and force you are dealing with when a 10 or 15 ton bus hits something. I could see the point of completely raising the driver out of harms way however - the driving position in the Futurliner looks about right to me - and that in, for instance, a Van Hool Cityliner is all wrong.

There's been quite a bit on the news here today about bus safety following the bad crash here last night, and the article reproduced below caught my eye. The driver of the National Express coach that crashed has been arrested by the way, on suspicison of dangerous driving. Also, I was interested to see how undamaged the bus itself looked despite a fairly high speed accident and rollover - confirming the theory of how strongly buses are built, but not preventing deaths and serious injuries in this case unfortunately.

Jeremy

Article about coach safety:

The death of two passengers in a coach near London has put bus safety in the spotlight.
But despite the fatal crash, coach travel is still the safest form of road transport in the country, according to the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT).

Latest CPT figures show the number of fatalities, per one billion passenger kilometres travelled, is 17 for buses and coaches, 37 for cars and 1,500 for motorcycles.

Passengers are required by law to wear seatbelts, and it has been revealed those travelling on the National Express coach that crashed were warned about their legal position.

Simon Posner, director general CPT, said on Thursday: "I have spoken to National Express and they have told me that their driver had told passengers that they should put on seatbelts."

Individual's decision

All coaches first used on or after 1 October 2001 are required to have seatbelts fitted. Very few coaches driving on UK roads are without seatbelts, the CPT has confirmed.

  Thankfully, accidents such as today's are very rare when it comes to coach travel

Simon Posner, Confederation of Passenger Transport

Under government regulations, coach operators have to notify passengers to use the belts, though it is the duty of individual passengers aged over 14 - and not drivers or operators - to ensure they use them.


The operator can inform passengers via the driver or through an audio-visual presentation.

Mr Posner said: "Thankfully, accidents such as today's are very rare when it comes to coach travel.

"More and more people are abiding by the seatbelt rules in coaches. Passengers now tend to treat coaches like planes and immediately belt up when they hear the seatbelt announcement."
 
A Department of Transport spokesman said: "We do encourage children travelling on coaches to wear seatbelts but at present there is no requirement on children under 14 to wear them.

"We are launching a consultation soon on how the law should be applied to passengers under 14 on coaches."

As well as seatbelts, UK coaches go through rigorous safety checks.

Coaches are given the equivalent of an MOT every month, a test which is far more detailed than ones faced by normal motor vehicles, the CPT said.



[Jeremy] - An MOT is the UK road-worthiness test - usually once a year for cars. One of the reasons I bought my bus was all the records that came with it detailing all the regular inspections and work it had received


Pics of bus involved in last night's accident:





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« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2007, 12:08:50 PM »

I don't think Clarke's article inferred that Eagle buses were worse than any other kind. The truth is that all rear engine buses, like cabover trucks, have no crush zone in front of the driver.  On a bus, there is just the outer and inner skin in front of the driver with a little bit of flimsy framing that offers almost no protection.

A teenager riding in the trunk of a car was critically injured on Tuesday (in Ottawa, On.) when the car struck a house. Aithoritiies pointed out that the trunk is designed to collapse and absorb energy in a accident to protect the people inside the car. On a bus, there is just the outer and inner skin in front of the driver with a little bit of flimsy framing that offers almost no protection.

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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2007, 12:25:46 PM »

While the bus pictured is not a US Neoplan, I am encouraged by the way the overall structure held up the being rolled. I'm assuming it just rolled onto it's side not over.

A Neoplan owner.
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JerryH
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« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2007, 12:44:25 PM »

As mentioned in an early post -- I observe the 4-second rule (often taking it up to 6 seconds when I can).

When in Arcadia, I believe a speaker mentioned using 5 second rule of waiting before making lane change after putting on signal.  Well here's my $0.02 on that.  If I had $1.00 for every time I put my signal on in an effort to provide adequate warning that I was changing lanes only to have the driver in the passing lane mash their accelerator down to cut me off.  No one likes to get behind a bus or truck.  On the way back from FL to PA, car after car after car screwed me out of my ability to make many lane changes when the opening was there for me.  Only ONE driver (in VA) actually slowed down slightly and flicked their high beams allowing me to move left.  So yeah, I then got into look for my opening, begin my move AS I put on the signal.  Wrong ... maybe, but after getting jerked around over and over again, it actually worked.

Worst one was coming over RT-495 (incline) around Wilmington, DE.  I am in #3 lane (far right) ... there are cars moving slower than posted speed in the #1 and #2 lanes.  The #2 lane car is now 3/4 of the way back on my left.  Up ahead I see two semi's entering the on ramp.  I engage my left signal.  I am quite confident the #2 car saw the semi's entering as I did.  Any reasonable human being could have easily dropped back allowing me to move left.  NOPE!  This guy hits the gas, making me drop in speed and momentum on the hill.  After I could move left to the #2 lane and then left again into the #1 lane, I began to approach the #2 lane vehicle (who sped up).  what did he do?  He speeds up -- this guy had a real adversion to being passed by a bus.

What the hell is wrong with drivers today???  They are complete idiots.

I think a mandatory driving school should be in order for all new drivers.  I mean a decent driving course which also teaches road etiquette and some insight on driving large vehicles.  I don't recall when in High School drivers ed was I taught anything about what large truck operators endure.

Again, just my $0.02.  But I do agree with others -- regardless of the vehicle, if the conditions are right (or "wrong" as it were) ... and it's "your time", it'll be what it's going to be.  You've just got to do your best at being on your toes, having keen reaction and assume the vehicle in front of the vehicle in front of you will jam on their brakes.

I prefer not being tight behind a vehicle I can't see over -- it prevents ME from seeing what's ahead.  I cannot assume the driver in front of me is aware and watching the road.

FWIW,
Jerry H.
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Christyhicks
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« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2007, 01:24:20 PM »

Me, I prefer in delaying "my time",  Wink in fact, when it's "my time to go", they'll have to drag me out kicking and screaming!  Cheesy I'll be grabbing at the door frames and digging my toes into the asphalt.   Grin

I think I'll just take it easy, watch far ahead, maintain our bus, and do everything in my power to delay "my time to go"!  Christy Hicks
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