Staying in touch can lead to safety concerns - Metro US

Staying in touch can lead to safety concerns

Cellphones can be handy. And they’re just about everywhere. The problem is yakking away in public; we lose our attention on etiquette and particularly safety — whether behind the wheel or walking across the street.

For example, streetcar users already watch for traffic when boarding and exiting. Seeing a motorist sail past the open doors while engaged in cellular conversation seems extra infuriating.

The province is banning driving while holding a phone — but many people are sure to continue the practice.

And yet if someone happens to be piloting a truck — or a bus — the potential for misfortune can be great.

Toronto transit drivers are respected throughout the industry for their safety record, so I don’t get why even one would casually use a cellphone while driving. Yes, sometimes an emergency call may come when they’re behind the wheel. But for the sake of riders who deserve to be transported safely — please stop the vehicle.

So, why doesn’t the TTC already enforce a zero-tolerance policy on phones? One complication is that dispatch supervisors stay in contact with drivers via on-board telephones.

It’s also possible that chatting discreetly on a hands-free device may be no more distracting for an experienced bus operator than answering a lost rider’s questions. But even the act of wearing an ear bud is unprofessional and indicates deep disrespect for the travelling public.

Earlier this year in Boston a serious crash occurred between two light rail trains, and the driver admitted to texting at the time. Transit employees there are now forbidden to carry a mobile device while in uniform.

So, should you complain if your driver appears to be on the phone — or get off and take the next vehicle?

Many GTA transit users have repeatedly expressed to me their lack of faith in the official complaints process, saying reports are not acted upon. Conversely, TTC employees say managers are too eager to believe rider claims — including false ones. I feel the reality is midway between these extremes.

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