Evaluation of Rear-End Bus Collisions and Identification of Possible Solutions

(Center Identification Number: 77955-00)

Principal Investigators:

William P. Morris, Senior Research Associate
National Center for Transit Research (NCTR) at the
Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR)
University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Avenue, CUT 100
Tampa, Florida  33620-5375

Christopher P. DeAnnuntis, Senior Research Associate
National Center for Transit Research (NCTR) at the
Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR)
University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Avenue, CUT 100
Tampa, Florida  33620-5375

Project Manager:

Robert Westbrook, Operations Administrator
Office of Public Transportation
Florida Department of Transportation
605 Suwannee Street, MS 26
Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Background Statement

Safety of all transportation modes and systems is a priority and a major focus area for the Florida Department of Transportation.  In public transportation, there are specific requirements transit agencies must follow to ensure the safety of their operations, most significant is the System Safety Program Plan (SSPP).  FDOT monitors SSPPs on a regular basis and also tracks trends in safety-related issues with the Florida Operations Network.  FDOT has reported that some transit agencies are reporting an increase in rear end collisions when private motorists strike the rear of a bus while the bus is decelerating, stopped, or accelerating back into traffic.  It has always been true that buses must stop more often than other traffic, often in travel lanes.  There may be a correlation between an increase in rear end bus collisions and reports of overall greater distracted driving among the motoring public.  One solution to maintaining the flow of traffic in travel lanes is to construct bus pull out bays when possible.  Florida has legislation that motorists must yield to buses when they are entering or exiting a bus pull out bay (Florida Statues Chapter 316.0815, Duty to yield to public transit vehicles).

Research Objectives

The purpose of this project is to conduct a systematic study to examine rear end collisions between motorists and public transit buses to achieve the following objectives:

  • Determine if rear-end collisions are increasing
  • Conduct an assessment to ascertain the prevalence of rear end collisions
  • Identify conditions that exist when rear-end collisions occur (location, time of day, etc.)
  • Identify mitigation strategies for agencies that have identified rear-end collisions as a major issue
  • Assess impact of Yield to Bus and pull-out bays on rear-end collisions
  • Identify solutions and/or strategies to reduce rear-end collisions
  • Examine bus safety legislation in other states and assess whether Florida’s current statutes need to be revised

Task 1.  Literature Review

CUTR will conduct a general literature review into the topic of bus transit safety, collisions, and bus safety legislation from other states.  At a minimum, the following documents will be reviewed:

  • Analysis of Florida Transit Bus Crashes
  • National Transit Bus Accident Data Collection and Analysis
  • Analysis of Florida Transit Bus Accidents
  • Florida Bus Incident Reporting Tracking and Analysis System
  • TCRP Synthesis 49:  Yield to Bus State of the Practice
  • TCRP Report 72:  Simulators and Bus Safety:  Guidelines for Acquiring and Using Transit Bus Operator Driving Simulators
  • TCRP Synthesis 18:  Bus Occupant Safety

Task 1 Deliverable:  CUTR will submit a written report to sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us detailing the finding of the literature review.

Task 2.  Classification of Accidents

In this task, CUTR will obtain samples of police, sheriff and Florida Highway Patrol accident reports and classify the types of conditions that are recorded when collisions occur to place rear-end collisions in context.  CUTR will examine multiple years data from the Florida Traffic Crash Report/Long Form editions and the FDOT Safety Office State Highway System Crash Analysis Reporting (CAR) System.  These two databases contain different, but relevant information on collisions.  In addition, a sample of reports filed by transit agencies as part of their own incident investigation files will be obtained and summarized with focus in Broward and Orlando areas.

Task 2 Deliverable:  CUTR will submit a written report to Sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us detailing the classification of accidents as determined from each of the data sources.

Task 3.  Survey of Transit Agencies

CUTR will develop a web-based survey of transit agencies to probe issues surrounding collisions, including rear-end collisions, and probe agencies as to whether they have developed strategies to curb collisions.  This would include technology and/or operational improvements to buses to warn motorists about bus stopping activity.  CUTR will also probe whether there are agencies that have a process for identifying key locations where collisions occur in order to improve or change operational conditions.  CUTR will coordinate closely with the Florida Operations Network as the primary means of garnering participation in the survey.

Task 3 Deliverable:  CUTR will submit a written report to Sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us detailing the survey results of transit agencies.

Task 4.  Field Data Collection and Analysis

In consultation with FDOT and the Florida Operations Network, CUTR will select three transit systems for detailed collision analysis.  CUTR will conduct a detailed analysis of LYNX, Central Florida Regional Transit Authority (LYNX) which encompasses Seminole, Orange and Osceola Counties and Broward County Transit in Broward County, Florida.  The third system selected should be a smaller or mid-size community such as Ocala or Daytona Beach.  This will help determine whether major urbanized areas are more prone to a greater prevalence of rear-end collisions than smaller communities.

In order to seriously analyze collisions at the incident level, CUTR will utilize a series of data sources over a three year period (past and present), as follows:

  • The statewide crash database, which is the database maintained by the Florida Division of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) for collision reporting.
  • The database for citations issued, also maintained by DHSMV and which will assist in determining the incidence of motorists being cited for the Yield to Bus Law (Chapter 316.0815);
  • The Florida Traffic Crash Report/Long Form editions;
  • The collision investigation files maintained by the targeted transit agencies for a reasonably available period, such as three years


CUTR will conduct a detailed analysis of all bus collision types, then rear-end collisions as a subset of overall collisions, and rear-end collisions at bus bays as a subset of rear-end collisions.  It must be noted that the purpose of this study is to determine if there is an increase in the prevalence of rear end collisions as a percentage of overall bus collisions.  Therefore, it is imperative to record all bus collisions by type because there could be other types of collisions that are on the rise. CUTR will work with transit agency safety and risk personnel for insight, mitigation practices, training, and reporting. Similar to the manner in which law enforcement agencies target areas of high crime, CUTR will geocode collisions in GIS to determine if there are hot spots where rear-end collisions are occurring.  Further, collisions will be classified by facility type, speed limit, location (intersection, mid-block, pullout bays, etc.), time of day, day of week, and other discernible factors.  This analysis could further drill down to observe rear-end collisions on major state facilities such as S.R. 436 in Central Florida and/or U.S. 1 in South Florida.

CUTR will examine bus safety legislation in other states and assess applicability to Florida’s current statutes. The research team will review current Yield To Bus law language and will provide recommendations for possible modifications. Such modifications will be based on the findings of the literature review, field data collection and analysis tasks.

Task 4 Deliverable:   CUTR will submit a written report to Sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us with detailed results of the three case studies.

Task 5.  Synthesis/Conclusions/Recommendations

In this task, the research team will synthesize previous tasks to draw conclusions and identify strategies to determine the relative prevalence of rear-end collisions in relation to all bus-related collisions and determine if there is an increase in the rate of such collisions.  The research will also identify strategies that have been put in place by agencies to mitigate rear-end collisions when they have been identified as a problem.  Finally, the synthesis will include a summary of yield-to-bus strategies and their impacts on safety as well as the status of Florida’s legislation regarding motorists’ responsibility to yield to buses.

Task 5 Deliverable:  CUTR will submit a report to Sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us detailing the synthesis, conclusions and recommendations from this study.

Project Oversight and Peer Review

This NCTR project will utilize subject matter experts to serve as a Project Advisory Committee.  The committee will include members of the Florida Operations Network (FON), and the FDOT project manager, Grant Programs Administrator, and the Transit Safety Programs Manager at a minimum.  The Committee will confirm the relevance of the research, review project deliverables and final report, and provide overall guidance and input to the CUTR project team.   The Project Advisory Committee will be consulted through telephonic meetings, FON listserv activities, and through regularly scheduled, quarterly FON meetings.  There will be no travel related expenses associated with the activities of the Project Advisory Committee.

Project Kickoff Meeting

A kick-off meeting shall be held within the first 30 days of the execution of the task work order by the university.  The preferred method for the kick-off meeting is via teleconference or video conference.  At a minimum, the project manager, principal investigator, and Research Office representative will attend.   Other parties may be invited, as appropriate.  The subject of the meeting will be to review and discuss the project’s tasks, schedule, milestones, deliverables, reporting requirements, and deployment plan.  A summary of the kick-off meeting shall be included in the first progress report.

TASK 6 – Draft Final and Final Report

Ninety (90) days prior to the end date of the task work order CUTR will submit to sandra.bell@dot.state.fl.us a Draft Final Report that (be specific final report should address objectives of the project)  The draft final report shall be prepared following the Guidelines for Preparing a Final Report at http://www.dot.state.fl.us/research-center/Project_Mgt_Resources.shtm.

Task 6 Deliverable – Final Report.  Upon Department approval of the Draft Final Report, CUTR will submit eight (8) copies on CD of the Final Report.  Seven (7) CDs will contain the final report in PDF format, one (1) CD will contain the final report in PDF format, MS Word format and a Summary of the Final Report.  The CDs should be delivered to: The Florida Department of Transportation, Research Center, 605 Suwannee Street, MS 30, Tallahassee, FL 32399-0450.

The final task of the research will be to provide practitioners and other transportation professionals a copy of the final report as a resource document that will detail data related to rear-end bus collisions and strategies to mitigate those collisions.

Project Closeout Meeting

A closeout meeting shall be held within the final 30 days of the task work order to review project performance, the deployment plan, and next steps.  Attendees shall include, as a minimum, the project manager, the principal investigator, and the Research Center performance coordinator.


There will be travel associated with this project to LYNX in Orlando, FL and Broward County Transit in Fort Lauderdale, FL.  Transit agencies regard their collision incident and investigation files to be sensitive due to the fact that there is always the prospect of potential litigation.  Also, such files can be very voluminous.  The research team anticipates on-site work where files would be examined and annotated for the relative data collection efforts needed for this project.  No travel will be planned, executed, or submitted for reimbursement without written request and approval from the FDOT project manager.  NCTR research project contract funds will not be utilized to support travel for FDOT employees.

Per Diem = $36/day X 5 days each trip

Mileage = 200 miles RT X 2

Lodging = $100/night at 5 nights each person, each trip

Airfare = $400 each person/one trip

Project Schedule

December 2012 to March 2014

Project Budget

Total Project Cost     $150,000




  1. As a long term pro bono public safety roadway advocate and a transportation vehicle and logisitics specialists for over 30 years please note that, in Miami Dade County, Florida I do not currently know how often these mass transit vehicles are struck in the rear by distracted motorists on the public roadways but it does undoubtedly occur resulting in serious or fatal injuries for the motorists.

    Given that many of the bus stops in Miami Dade are unfortunately located directly on the roadway in the majority of bus routes in lieu of them being located out of the main roadway I would like to propose and recommend the following suggestions for the rear of these bus transit vehicles in order to hopefully prevent collisions, injuries and fatalities from occurring to the resident / motorists throughout the State of Florida.

    1) Extend the rear bumper on these transit bus vehicles with an energy absorbing system ( similar as those utilized on the rear of the roadway maintenance vehicles but shorter in length) so that whenever an oncoming motor vehicle collides in to the rear of the heavy stationary transit vehicle on the roadway at 30 to 40 mph hopefully it would be a survivable event for the motorists traveling in smaller type of vehicles which is my primary concern or objective in lieu of becoming a serious injury or a fatality.

    2) Install highly reflective striping 4 or 6 inches in width in contrasting colors ( Red / White or Red / Lime Green, ) in a chevron pattern configuration on the rear engine access panels of the mass transit vehicle in order to make these vehicles very conspicuous in traffic anytime that it is traveling on the roadway or is stationary ( day or night) in order to also help prevent rear end collisions from occurring to these types of vehicles which have to make numerous repeated stops on the roadways on a daily basis.

    3) Install highly conspicuous emergency warning lights ( with a minimum of 6 or 8 LED lights) with arrow indicators on the rear of the mass transit vehicles so that, as they are reducing travel speed and while they are momentarily stopped ( picking up boarding passengers or offloading passengers on the public roadways ) the warning lights will automatically activate to warn and redirect oncoming drivers that are approaching from the rear. Once again the goal or objective of these warnings lights is to hopefully prevent a rear end collision from occurring.

    Note : Some of the newer model transit buses have some warning lights installed on the rear however, they are not very effective or highly visible since they opted to select a lower priced and grade warning light versus selecting warning lights utilized for emergency vehicle applications.

    4) All of the transit buses operating on the public roadways throughout the State of Florida in my estimation should be equipped with the swing out arms equipped with warning lights just like those installed on the school busses.

    This would then require all vehicles approaching from both directions of the transit vehicle to stop since often whenever the riders are off loaded they proceed to cross the roadway directly in front of the bus and they are not seen by oncoming motorists and subsequently are then struck and either injured or killed which could hopefully be prevented.

    If you have any questions ref these matters please do not hestiate to contact me an thank you for your time.

    PS I would sincerely appreciate receiving statistical information on the total number of rear end collisions which occur throughout the Nation, how many motorists / riders were injured and or killed involving a transit vehicle.

    Mike Arias

  2. Wouldn’t it stand to reason, Mike? Your ideal is delightful, but impractical on so many levels. 1. If the operator of a motorized vehicle (driving within either the typical urban or suburban environment) is unable to identify a stationary or moving transit bus by its height, width, and form — no bells and whistles (tape or lighting or attenuators) will resolve the safety hazard. The operator’s vision and perception, or distractability requires remediation — not really the physical bus. 2. The prominent problem we are attempting to resolve is ignorance of the law to Yield to Bus Entering Traffic and this is all part and parcel with the drivers’ refusual to “get stuck behind the bus”. The ensuing weaving manuevers that are subsequently attempted and aborted is the safety hazard. (Those rear end collisions are not necessarily “straight on”.) 3. Treating adult pedestrians with the same duty of care as impulsive school aged children is implying a prejudice — that bus transit patrons lack a substantial maturity and exposure level to naviage safely to a marked or unmarked intersection — encouraging greater disruption to vehicular traffic flow. 4. Then, too, considering the roadway environment, the plan ignores a documented problem with the school-bus secondary vehicular rear-end collisions caused with compliance/non-compliance of the little school bus “stop arm.”

Leave a Reply

Please complete the simple math problem prior to submitting your comment. This reduces spam. Thanks! * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.