A comprehensive resource for safe and responsible laser use

US: Bronx bus driver sees doctor after passenger aims red laser at him

A 52-year-old bus driver had a red laser beam shone in his eye by a passenger, on November 18 2015. The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority bus BX15 was on its route in the Bronx with about 25 passengers aboard when driver Kenneth Johnson saw a flash of red laser light that temporarily blinded him. He stopped the bus and the passengers — including the unknown person with the laser — got off.

Johnson went to a hospital and had an eye examination the next day. (No results were reported as of November 19.)

Because the bus has cameras, the video will be used to try to identify the perpetrator.

According to WABC, this is the first laser incident involving a New York City bus driver.

From WABC

Germany: Bus driver's eye injured by laser pointer aimed by child

An October 5 2015 report in the British Medical Journal Case Reports describes a public bus driver who suffered retinal injury due to a schoolboy aiming a red laser beam into a mirror on the bus, reflecting into the driver’s eyes.

Diagram of laser pointer on bus

The 44-year-old driver stared into the laser several times, as he tried to identify the person holding the laser. He suffered blurred vision in his right eye immediately after the exposure, but waited 6 months before having his first complete eye exam.

The exam showed “spot-like retinal pigment epithelium disturbances temporal to the fovea of the right eye, with no abnormalities in his left eye.” The authors stated that “The subjective complaints and objective ophthalmological findings of this patient were consistent and strongly suggested that the repetitive exposure of the eye to the reflected laser spot 6 months previously had caused subtle but detectable injury to the macula.”

The authors concluded with two “Learning points”:

  • “We suggest that no laser pointers of any class are made available to children, since they are unlikely to understand the risks of permanent retinal damage.”

  • “For the safety of users and the general public, even low-energy handheld laser pointers should not be sold to children.”

The authors did not identify the location of the incident, but it may be Germany since three of the four authors’ institutions were in Germany. Additional analysis and commentary is below (click the “Read More…” link).

From Thanos S, Böhm MRR, Meyer zu Hörste M, et al. “Retinal damage induced by mirror-reflected light from a laser pointer” BMJ Case Reports. Retrieved online: 2015 Nov 05, doi:10.1136/bcr-2015- 210311.
Click to read more...

UK: Bus driver treated at hospital after laser pen attack

A bus driver in South Shields, in the northeast of England, had a green laser pen aimed into his eyes by a youth standing with a group of teens by the roadside. The driver, temporarily dazzled, said it was like looking at a very bright lightbulb. According to police, “The driver’s vision is now improving after hospital treatment, however, this was a potentially dangerous situation and could have caused a crash.” The South Shields Police are investigating to find the perpetrator of the July 12 2013 attack.

From the Shields Gazette

Northern Ireland: Youths aim laser pen at drivers

A group of youths aimed a laser pen at motorists in Limavady, near Derry, on November 8 2011. A bus driver “averted his gaze and managed to avoid damage to his eyes.” Another man hit said “my car had a green laser aimed at it, but thankfully the laser reflected off the body work. It did, however, still alter the clarity of vision so I can appreciate how extremely dangerous a laser aimed at drivers could be.”

Police are searching for the perpetrators.

From the Derry Journal

UK: Teens shine laser at bus driver

A bus driver was left with “stinging eyes” after teenagers aimed a laser at him on October 11 2011. The driver declined hospital treatment.

Police are trying to track down the person(s) in Shotton Colliery, south of Newcastle Upon Tyne, who shined a laser on the 24 Arriva bus service to Peterlee. In addition to the laser attack, there have been other reports of misbehavior in the area from youths in East Durham Homes council accommodations.

From the Sunderland Echo

Australia: Bus driver has eye injury from passing motorist

A passing motorist aimed a laser at a Sydney bus driver, temporarily blinding his right eye. He “was forced to brake heavily to avoid colliding with a concrete barrier.”

News reports said the driver was “in visible pain.” A photo showed the driver on his stopped bus, holding his eye. He told paramedics he had “disturbed vision”. He was taken to Sydney Hospital and was released the next day, Saturday March 12 2011.

Police are looking for the perpetrator.

From the
Sunday Telegraph

Netherlands: Bus driver injured; 14-year-old arrested

(English translation of Dutch original)

On Sunday [Nov 21 2010] the police in Den Bosch arrested a 14-year-old boy who probably shone with a laser pen from his parental home, into the eyes of a bus driver.

The 46-year-old driver got a eye damage and had to stop the bus. The victim was treated in hospital. It is still unclear whether the injury is permanent.

A police spokeswoman has reported Monday. In the bedroom officers found the boy had approximately one hundred blanks [bullet blank rounds, which are illegal in Netherlands]. The boy was sent home after interrogation.

Dutch original story from De Telegraaf Binnenland, Nov. 22 2010
Thanks to Maurice Wortel for bringing this to our attention.

UK: Up to 5 years in jail; bus and tennis incidents cited

The UK Home Secretary, Jack Straw, has warned that people found guilty of using laser pens to cause injury, can expect up to five years in prison. His statement comes after three Hampshire police officers were seriously injured when a beam temporarily blinded them.

They join many others who have fallen victim to a device that experts say is too dangerous to be used by the untrained.

At the Paris Indoor Tennis Open two weeks ago, the Australian Patrick Rafter became a victim. A laser beam shone by a spectator was directed at the player's face. The game had to be halted while he recovered. Other sportsmen and pop stars have been targeted too.

In South Yorkshire one bus company has recorded 32 separate incidents in the past month. Drivers say they have been picked out by people intent on causing an accident.Click to read more...