In the State of New York, it is illegal to use a handheld phone while driving. Since the start of this month, it has also been illegal to text while behind the wheel. Luckily for one New York City Transit bus driver, he got caught texting while driving before the Nov. 1 ban went into effect. So that means this bus driver gets to keep his job, right? Well, what if I told you he subsequently hit and killed a pedestrian crossing the street? What if I told you this bus drivers had been suspended for texting but was not fired despite Transit’s wishes? Rather, the arbitrator in this labor dispute decided to send the driver to what the Daily News called “driver safety and customer service training courses.”
Today, in the wake of this tragedy, the Daily News editorial staff wonders why Transit does not have the power to fire a driver caught on the phone. It is a very good question. According to the editorial, 108 drivers were “disciplined for using phones.” Already this year, due to increased enforcement efforts, that number is up to 170, and the News urges a sensible brightline policy: “More enforcement won’t amount to anything until a zero-tolerance standard is set: If you use a cell or text while in command of a bus, you will never drive for the TA again.” Sounds about right to me.