All throughout the country, safety campaigns are being enacted to warn about the danger posed by distracted driving, and most states have passed some sort of legislation focused on outlawing texting or handheld cellphone behavior. Distracted driving has replaced intoxication in the national consciousness, but one place where it’s still important to get the message across is with commercial drivers.
A new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts takes a look at distracted driving among commercial drivers, be they operators of buses or engineers at the helm of a train. Multiple incidents of bus drivers caught taking their eyes off the road in the United States have come to the fore as of late, and recently, a train crash in Spain that made headlines across the world reportedly took place while the driver was using his phone.
Numerous efforts have been put into place in order to protect commuters of all sorts. At the federal level, the Department of Transportation has enacted a rule prohibiting the usage of a handheld phone by operators of commercial trucks and buses. Those rules, though, only apply to those vehicles that move from one state to another, which is why many states have followed in the footsteps of the federal regulators, enacting similar rules focused on their own states.
When it comes to public transit, many transit providers look to the standards developed back in 2009 by the American Public Transportation Association. To adhere to the standards, employers must develop policies that do such things as require drivers to turn off and/or put away their phones when they crawl behind the wheel. That same group has also been attempting to limit the distractions that bus operators face on a regular basis, like having to collect fares or respond to customers who are trying to signal them to do something.
Because the standards developed by the APTA are voluntary, employees don’t necessarily have to submit to them, but given the liabilities now created by those who are unwilling to create policies and train drivers on how to follow them, many firms are gung ho about putting anti-distraction procedures into place.
The report looks at some of the ways that various transit agencies are striving to get workers to put down phones. Nashville bus drivers have to lock their phones away before they can go anywhere, while in Boston, the drivers aren’t even supposed to get into the bus if they have a cellphone on their person. In Dallas, rapid transit operators have to stop the bus and leave their seat if they have to make a call for any reason.
These types of policies are crucial in order to ensuring the safety of commuters. If you’re ever on public transit and your driver is distracted by a phone, don’t be afraid to speak up, as they are endangering the lives of you and everyone on board.