We had a lot of fun cracking wise about Muni’s announcement that they had installed the DriveCam “driver risk mitigation system” on all “its trolley, biodiesel and biodiesel-electric hybrid buses”

As they said back in November, “The DriveCam system uses interior and exterior cameras to record collisions and other unsafe driving behavior. The cameras record and download a few seconds of footage before and after an incident when the vehicle experiences an exceptional force, such as hard breaking or swerving. These recordings will be used for safety investigations and Operator instruction.”

So of course, we had to ask MTA spokesperson Judson True if the DriveCam system was working on the 19 Polk that collided with a truck early this morning. He says, yes, the system was “Yes, operable and yes, under review in the investigation.”

Have you seen the footage?

Can we?

It’s clear that the MTA is focused on making sure their safety record is improving: this afternoon they sent out an email subject lined “Statement on Accident Data Showing Improved Muni Safety” with this PDF of Muni collision data to demonstrate an “18 percent decline in vehicle collisions (1413 to 1152) and a 38 percent decline in pedestrian collisions (61 to 38)” year over year in 2008 and 2009.

So Muni wants you to know that it’s safe. But with news organizations like SFist reporting that “it did not appear that either the bus or the pickup had come to a stop at the four-way stop-sign intersection,” 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.

True says he’s “checking on the release of the video” and will update us when he has an answer. As we have in the past, however, and in the spirit of that Open San Francisco Government we’ve heard so much about, we’d like to encourage Muni to make releasing video from crime and crashes the norm — not the exception.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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