TriMet, Portland’s transit agency, is still reviewing safety policies
in an attempt to improve safety. The agency was prompted to reevaluate
its policies after a bus driver hit five pedestrians, killing two, in
a late-night accident in April. Though the driver had not been using a
cell phone at the time of the accident, cell phones have been at the center
of other accidents involving buses and pedestrians.
TriMet policy has been that drivers can keep cell phones and other devices
such as MP3 players and headsets with them while driving but that they
must store the items and not use them while driving. This week the new
head of TriMet, Neil McFarlane, announced a change to this policy. Drivers
must now keep these devices turned off and stored away.
Really, why allow drivers to keep the cell phones turned on if they aren’t
supposed to use them while driving? Reports indicate the old policy wasn’t
working all that well, anyway; the Oregonian reported that over a two-year
period TriMet had received more than 530 complaints about drivers using
cell phones, including talking and texting, while driving. Let’s
hope the drivers follow the new policy and keep those devices turned off
and out of sight.