July 24, 2014

Deiser: Distracted bus drivers a safety risk

By Richard Deiser
Vice president and director, Bus Dept.

One of the most important issues facing the motor carrier industry is distracted driving.

Safe driving requires total concentration — not just on our own part, as we must also worry about other drivers not paying attention to what they are doing.

In fact, distraction can occur also in the locomotive cab and on the airplane flight deck.

As I write this column, the hot topic in the media is the airline crew that overflew their destination by over an hour. At first it was alleged that the captain and first officer were asleep. But, they later said they were using their laptops in an attempt to figure out the new method of crew scheduling.

The flight crew apparently was paying so little attention that they may as well have been asleep. There have been incidents causing death and injuries on the rails as well, such as when the locomotive engineer of a commuter train was on a cell phone and failed to see a signal.

In the past few months, there have been numerous bus accidents when either the operator or the other motorist was on a cell phone. The majority of states have now passed legislation barring the use of hand-held phones while driving. Massachusetts has gone so far as to ban any and all electronic device use by bus operators.

However, in an emergency, cell phones and communication devices can be useful, and even aid in assuring the safety of passengers.

We will be carefully monitoring legislation and policies affecting our membership and others engaged in providing transportation. In the interim, be safe and use common sense in the use of any communication device, whether personal or company provided.