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Do we need to change Cambus policies?

BY DI EDITORIAL STAFF | SEPTEMBER 26, 2011 7:20 AM

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No

There's a reason these accidents are extremely rare.

There's no denying the gravity of the Cambus-pedestrian collision. Our thoughts and (if inclined) prayers should be with the 20-year-old victim during her recovery. But too often we find ourselves over-reacting after mishaps like these, and that often leads to over-regulation.

There is nothing wrong with the system in place. The position of a Cambus driver is a very attractive part-time job in the eyes of many students. It pays well, and is probably a bit of fun at times. For this reason, there are very many applicants for an open position. If there is anything concerning about an applicant's driving record, that person will likely not be considered.

On top of that, it is estimated that 50 hours of training are required for each driver. If one drives straight from Maine to San Diego, finding a way to not stop for refueling, it would take approximately 50 hours. That's more than enough time for someone with a good driving record to learn how to drive a bus.

It's been said — and it will to continue to be said —but accidents happen. Judging from several apparent witnesses, this accident was not due to driver carelessness.

For a system that runs so many buses 14-plus hours each day under stress, two or three serious accidents in a quarter-century means the system is effective, even commendable.

Sure, there should be an audit for safety, but the system likely calls for constant safety evaluations regardless of recent events.

Severe reform in response to one unfortunate, freak accident is unwarranted. It could paralyze the free student-resident service in which the Iowa City community takes the utmost pride.

What else is needed? Should drivers be required to have a Class-A trucking license? Something to that effect would shrink the applicant pool considerably. With such bothersome employee turnover, Cambus may not feel comfortable firing someone it feels is no longer qualified.

Or worse — it would have to cut back on its vital community services.

— Chris Steinke

Yes

In light of recent events, the University of Iowa Cambus system needs to re-evaluate its safety procedures and audit its drivers' behavior.

No matter where fault lies for the recent accident, one must remember that there's always continual room for improvement. In the case of pedestrian-bus collisions, even one event is too serious to overlook. And as many in Iowa City far well know, the Cambus system's safety procedures could certainly be readdressed.

Personally speaking, many time I've seen Cambuses driving with seemingly no acknowledgment of the pedestrians of Iowa City, who are too often prone to jaywalking. More than once, I've considered Iowa City the jaywalking capital of the world, which understandably makes driving a nightmare for any driver. Although this prevalence of jaywalking does not lessen the pedestrian's role in safety, the ultimate responsibility should rest with the driver.

While Cambus has had an incredibly efficient and overall safe history, the Sept. 21 accident shows the dangers inherent in city driving. Where to go from here is a simple re-evaluation of how the entire dynamic performs. Specifically, officials should look at what actually transpired to allow this to happen (which they are doing) and then field a reasonable solution so as to minimize the probability of this event ever happening again.

More generally, however, officials should use this event as a red flag to stress the need for more safety throughout the system. Whether that places a greater focus on initial training and procedure or continual driver-testing is a decision left to university officials. Regardless, this accident provides a chance for safety to be re-emphasized in a service so invaluable to the efficient functioning of the city and university.

If Cambus attempts to further its safety-oriented focus, unfortunate circumstances such as that of Sept. 21 can be negated and, hopefully, altogether removed in future service.

— Matt Heinze


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