Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Distracted driving is under scrutiny across the country, and here at TriMet.
10/20/09 Texting and talking while driving

Stephen R. Banta, Executive Director Operations

The Oregonian will soon publish an article about TriMet operators and cell phone use. Before it comes out, I want to emphasize a couple of things to employees.

First, I am proud of our professional operators and know that the vast majority do not text or talk on their phones while operating TriMet vehicles. Like many of you, I am frustrated that the actions of a few reflect poorly on so many.

Second, the issue of texting and talking on cell phones while driving has become a major issue in our industry. Over the last year there have been several serious accidents involving transit operators who were distracted using personal mobile devices. In some cities, newspapers and television stations have shown photographs of operators texting and talking on cell phones, and even doing crossword puzzles.

This summer it was reported in the New York Times that motorists talking on a cell phone are "four times as likely to crash as other drivers, and are as likely to cause an accident as someone with a .08 blood alcohol content." Clearly, this is an issue that we all need to take very seriously.

Some transit agencies have instituted zero tolerance regulations, while local, state and federal governments are talking about potential restrictions on texting and talking on cell phones while driving. TriMet has been working with other transit agencies through APTA to develop a set of best practices around this issue. If you are interested in reading the draft recommended practice, it is available on APTA's website at this link: Recommended Practice regarding Employee-Controlled Distractions while Operating a Vehicle on Company Time.

By now, you should all be aware of the policies relevant to this issue:

* SOP 801 Bus Operating Rules:
No audio or video device of any kind including headsets, wireless earpieces, and cellular phones, shall ever be used or visible while you are in the driver’s seat unless you are parked at a layover.
* Rail Transportation Rule Book A 3.4
Operators shall not use cellular telephones or other communications devices in an operating cab while the train is away from a terminal station, except to contact Control during a radio system failure.

I want to emphasize that we will strictly enforce compliance of these rules. This includes the wearing of Bluetooth wireless headsets, whether they are in use or not.

If you choose to text, take or place a call while driving, you are jeopardizing the safety of yourself, your riders, other users of the road and TriMet's equipment. You are also putting your job at risk, and engaging in behavior that reflects poorly on all operators. Please join with me and commit to not talking and texting while driving, and to holding each and every one of us accountable for safe, professional behavior.


Do you have thoughts on distracted driving? Send me a message at stevemail@trimet.org.

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