Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Reporting a Near-Miss

This past Saturday afternoon we almost deid. No, really - we were only three feet away from being plowed under by a Ride-On bus. My wife was staring eye-to-eye through the front window of the bus at the driver, who yelled at us. As usual we had waited for the crossing signal, but the bus driver did not wait for us. He floored it, and had to slam on the brakes when he finally noticed us. We were in the crosswalk, had the light, and were being careful and paying attention.

My wife continued to cross once the bus stopped, and I followed her. I had to weave to the left because the bus was in the crosswalk. The driver yelled something through the window that I could not understand. I said, "What did you say?"

"You have a lot of trust in my brakes!" he yelled through the door as I continued past.
"We have a lot of faith in your driving, too," I replied.
As I pushed my cart-full of groceries back into alignment with the ramp, the driver accelerated around the curve, and the rear-end of the bus nearly hit me again. He sped=off down Fenton Street. It was a 16 bus on its way to Silver Spring Station.

I cursed as I looked down and noticed that the thumb camera around my neck was turned-off. DAMN

I stood on that corner for another minute or two, trying to collect my wits and let some of the adrenalin coursing through my body dissipate. My wife checked her phone - it was 3:28 PM. As we walked the rest of the way home I began to get angry.That driver had acted recklessly, and Kathleen and I almost had to pay for it with our lives. Then, he yelled at US, as if we were doing something wrong.

When we finished unloading the groceries I started looking for a way to report this incident. I tried 311, but I got a message to call-back on Monday, or go to the website and file there. This I did, although I have to say that the process was confusing, lengthy, and frustrating. It probably took 25 minutes or more.

Here is the auto-response:

Thank you for contacting Montgomery County Government. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you. A service request has been created and sent to the appropriate County department for fulfillment.

Service Request Number: 195992532
Status: In Progress
Estimated Response Time: 7-10 Days
Area: Transit
Description: To file a Ride On service complaint, you may either call MC311 Monday - Friday from 7:00 am - 5:00 pm or create a service request below. The complaint will be investigated by a Transit staff member. To create a service request, please fill in required information that is indicated with red asterisk (*). In addition, the following additional information is required: Complaint date time, Incident Date time, Origin, Destination, Route or Bus Number, Media Used, Complaint Category, Complaint Subcategory and provide a brief description of incident. Without the above information, the complaint cannot be properly investigated. To obtain information regarding an Ride On accident or injury, please contact Risk Management at 240-777-8920.
For more information you may visit the following websites:
Please keep the service request number so that you can check the status of your request. In addition, you can click the following link to view your service request status online.


Thank you,
Montgomery County, MD
Please do not reply to this email.

That was Saturday, this is Wednesday. and I have gotten no response. I sent a copy of the automatic email response from my complaint to my Councilmember and asked for help.. It has the number and date on it. I told her that I thought someone should speak to this driver, and I offered to do it for them.

Hear is what I would say;

"Sir, you are a professional driver with the lives of many people in your hands. You should obey all traffic laws, travel at a safe speed and be especially mindful of pedestrians, who are - after all, what everyone of your riders are when they get off of your bus. You must never be in a hurry, but always in control of your vehicle. While others may drive around you with tension and anxiety, you must remain calm and aware. You're not making pancakes, you're playing a much more important role in the lives of hundreds of people, both seated behind you and crossing in front of you. Take care, driver. Be a professional."


  1. A work week has passed, and no response...

  2. It has now been nine days since I filed a report. No one has contacting me, even though I have sent this along to my councilmember. I don't understand. Are we just going to ignore this? Where do I go from here? Do I really just have to accept that if I follow the traffic rules at some intersections - like the one just up-the-street from my house -I still have to look-out for buses that I must expect NOT to follow the rules?

    This is an unfair proposition. If the driver is careless and unlucky he may lose his job. If I do not give the driver ever accommodation, I lose my life.

  3. From: Cherry, James (DOT-TRN) [] On Behalf Of Transit DOT
    Sent: Monday, April 23, 2012 6:14 PM
    Subject: Ride On Complaint - Reckless Driving

    William Smith

    We sincerely apologize for the incident of careless driving, involving a Ride On Bus. Ride On appreciates you taking time out of your busy schedule to bring this to our attention. We have counseled the driver about this incident and we hope this does not happen again.

    We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. Please feel free to contact Ride On at any time. Your comments are very important to us

    James M. Cherry
    Transit Operations Supervisor Silver Spring Ride On
    8710 Brookville Road Building # H
    Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

    I received this email last evening. It looks canned, to me. When I re-read it I see that it has no references to me personally, other than the Address. I wonder what "counseled' means? Does the author even know the details of the incident? I only gave breif information.
    I think I was expecting a call from someone, not a canned email ten days later. I feel very insignificant. I want to be happy that the County responded, but I'm not.