A single driver, who has worked for the agency since 1994, has racked up a total of 16 accidents, 25 written warnings and 30 days of unpaid suspension in the course of his career. In fact, just last year, he caused a four-car pileup that resulted in serious injuries to one woman, who just settled with the county for $75,000 in compensation. He had another crash after that. One might think all this qualifies him for termination. However, Broward Transit, the second-largest bus system in the state, has some of the most lax standards when it comes to discipline of drivers, whose union deal allows up to four crashes in a two-year period before termination is considered. Accidents that happen more than two years ago “roll off” the driver’s record.
Further, this policy isn’t even followed as it is. Some drivers are kept on even after causing more than four crashes in 24 months. In some cases, even when drivers are let go, they are rehired – only to cause more problems down the road. The Sun-Sentinel’s has covered this issue for some time, starting back in 2013 with the feature, “Bad Bus Drivers Stay Behind Wheel Despite Many Accidents.” More recently, the paper highlighted the ongoing problem with, “16 accidents, 30 days of suspension, no problem.”
Reporters have detailed the fact that in the course of four years, bus drivers in the county were ticketed nearly 215 times for running red lights on the job. Most of those were doled out via red light cameras. In most cases, red light runners are given a verbal warning. In one example highlighted, a 57-year-old driver was caught by a red light camera running a light on University Drive in Coral Springs – his fourth safety violation in a year. However, because they didn’t result in accidents, he was given a written warning. Perhaps even more troubling: The state of Florida doesn’t classify red light camera infractions as “serious” violations for bus drivers.
As one county commissioner noted, anyone traveling through a red light is a concern. But a bus that is “like a tank, running a red light, that can put people’s lives in jeopardy.” Our bus injury lawyers concur.
Of the 629 drivers employed in Broward as of 2013, almost half had been on the road for five years without any preventable accidents. But there were 60 drivers who crashed repeatedly during that time frame. In fact, there is more than one crash daily in the county, totaling 3,556 bus accidents between 2008 and 2013. These crashes have resulted in taxpayers doling out more than $7.1 million to for bus-related personal injuries and property damage.
Still, crashes continue to be a serious problem, despite vows from the transit authority and commissioners to take action. In fairness, there has been some effort. The authority has increased driver training programs and there are ongoing talks with union leaders to allow commissioners to take harsher disciplinary action against drivers who continue to crash.
Reform of the accident review process is critical, commissioners say, if the county wants to make sure only safe drivers are behind the wheel.
If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.
16 accidents, 30 days of suspension, no problem, Nov. 20, 2015, By Brittany Wallman, Sun-Sentinel
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