Last November, Muni told us that the “DriveCam” system would use interior and exterior cameras to record collisions and other unsafe driving behavior. The cameras are able to record and download a few seconds of footage before and after an incident when the vehicle experiences an exceptional force, such as hard braking or swerving during muni bus accidents. These recordings would then be used for safety investigations and Operator instruction.
If you believe Muni, the cameras are doing the job in some respects. Muni recently released a PDF “safety report” demonstrating an “18 percent decline in Muni-vehicle accidents (from 1413 to 1152) and a 38 percent decline in Muni-pedestrian accidents (from 61 to 38)” year over year n 2008 and 2009.
So, if you’re like me, you’re wondering if the DriveCam system was working on the 19 Polk Muni that crashed early on the morning of January 5th. According to SF Muni spokesperson Judson True, yes, the system was operable and yes, the video is under review as part of the investigation.
So, if you’re like me, the next thing you want to know is when we can see the film. Back in July I posted a link to the West Portal Light Rail Muni crash and I believe we all learned a lot about the accident once we were able to view it in real time. I think we would all similarly benefit from watching the video of this accident. At the very least, in the words of Eve Batey of SFAppeal Online Newspaper, “it seems like video from the moments leading up to the crash could be an invaluable tool in replacing speculation with fact, and could certainly send a more powerful message than all the PDFs in the world.”
As a San Francisco Muni accident attorney, I believe I speak for all residents when I join Eve Batey and ask for Muni to release the video of yesterday’s accident immediately. Handling Muni cases, I have been consistently surprised to learn that the video for each and every one of my cases has mysteriously not functioned for our accident. So far, Muni’s transparency is a bit too opaque, IMHO.
Claude A. Wyle is a partner of Choulos Choulos, and Wyle, a San Francisco based law firm dedicated to representing clients who have been injured by the wrongful conduct of individuals, corporations, public entities, and businesses. Mr. Wyle also frequently sits as a Judge Pro Tem for the city and county of San Francisco.