MTA Cracks Down On Bus Driver Violations, But Some Slip Through The Cracks

Bus accidents on the streets of New York spiked in June of this year. According to a Daily News article, accidents in 2013 were up 10 percent from January to July over the same period last year. This increase is primarily attributable to the June spike.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority says this is due to the growing number of young, inexperienced employees who have recently started driving city buses. In June 2013, there were 1,488 drivers who were in their second or third year on the job. This is a 35 percent increase over June 2012. Only 11 percent of all New York City drivers are in their second or third years, but 18 percent of accidents occurred when these drivers were behind the wheel.

Despite the increase in the number of buses involved in accidents, the rate of passengers injured overall has remained stable over last year, according to MTA statistics. In fact, it was on track to be significantly lower than last year's injury rate. However, the June spike in the number of accidents means that the passenger injury rate is similar to last year's.

A lot of New Yorkers have the potential to be affected by an increase in bus accidents. New York City buses transported an average of 2,169,311 passengers every weekday day in 2012, according to MTA statistics. The number of bus rides in 2012 totalled 667,910,621.

What is the MTA doing about the recent increase in the number of bus accidents? It is cracking down on bus drivers who violate the rules. According to the Daily News, drivers are being pulled off the streets and required to turn in their keys for even minor violations, like waving to another driver.

Waving to another driver is a violation because bus operators are required to keep both hands on the wheel at all times unless stopped at a light. Other common violations were using cellphones, not using turn signals and running red lights.

Bus dispatchers posing as passengers cited 371 drivers for 420 violations in May and June 2013 during the crackdown. Included in this were 60 drivers who were removed immediately after being required to pull over and surrender their keys.

Despite reports of the stepped-up enforcement, MTA officials allegedly returned a pot-using driver to service in August 2013 without the mandatory follow-up drug test. The driver reportedly failed a drug test in June. Only when the story broke in September in the Daily News was he taken off the road again.

The rules require drivers who test positive in random screenings to complete an authorized treatment program and pass a second drug test. In 2012, the MTA conducted 2,508 random tests of employees. Only three were positive for marijuana use, including the test of the driver who apparently returned to driving without the mandatory second test.

The MTA is investigating how the driver returned to work without taking the mandatory second test. Management oversights such as these hurt the department's effort to improve overall safety of the bus system.

If you've been injured by a MTA bus, don't treat it like a typical car accident. Claims against the MTA involve extra rules such as filing a notice of claim. If these laws aren't followed, the injury victim automatically forfeits his or her ability to recover damages. An experienced New York municipal liability attorney can help you build your case and comply with strict procedural laws.

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