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Distracted Public Transportation Drivers Under National Scrutiny

Christine Eke3 years ago

Accidents resulting from distracted driving by bus and commercial drivers have been popping up all over the country, and have received lots of attention due to the heightened danger of accidents with vehicles carrying large numbers of people. Some legislation has stepped in to try to combat the issue, according to a Stateline report.

Distracted Drivers Across the Nation

  • An 8-month old girl was killed in a stroller in New Jersey when a bus driver talking on a cell phone jumped the curb and toppled a light pole; the crash injured seven other bystanders as well.
  • A Spanish train crashed and killed 79 people when the driver was talking on the phone and driving at twice the speed limit.
  • In Kansas City, and 86-year-old woman was struck in the crosswalk by a bus driver who reached down to grab something; she suffered several broken bones.
  • A school bus driver near Tampa, Florida, was suspend after being videotaped by an eighth grader while texting and driving.
  • A Dallas bus driver was photographed reading a book laid across the steering wheel while at a stoplight.

Legislative Intervention

  • The federal government generally regulates rails more heavily than buses; buses that cross state lines are also subjected to federal rules, but local buses usually escape federal application.
  • In 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) banned about 4 million truck and interstate bus drivers from using hand-held phones while driving; about half of the states have followed suit.
  • Distracted driving was the cause of 13% of fatal motor coach accidents (and only 6% of fatalities), according to the DOT between 2001 and 2010; some states who refuse to implement federal rules into their own legislation site this statistic has essentially being too low to be worth it; driver fatigue accounts for one-third of fatal bus crashes and is viewed as a more compelling stance.
  • Many regulations, however, still escape federal or state scrutiny, especially smaller operators who don’t have the financial incentive to keep up with the rules.
  • Some city transit agencies, like Boston and Nashville, have taken measures to not enable drivers access to their cell phones while driving (locking phones away or not allowing them at all); other city agencies, like Dallas, Texas have incorporated distracted driving as part of its training course, and installing cameras on buses.
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