How often have you been a passenger in a taxi, bus or trolley when the driver has whipped out a cell phone and started yakking? I’ve seen it rather a lot lately.
The issue is getting some attention after 49 people suffered minor injuries when a trolley in Boston rear-ended another trolley. Police said the driver ran a red light while texting his girlfriend on his cell phone. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority now forbids drivers from even carrying cell phones on the job.
In another recent case, the Peter Pan Bus Lines suspended a driver after a passenger took video of him tearing tickets and talking on a cell phone while driving between Boston and New York. The video is posted on YouTube.
On my recent Peter Pan bus trip, the driver didn’t touch a cell phone. I was sitting right behind him, so I would have seen it. But I have seen drivers answer phones on other buses, and then carry on brief conversations. Taxis drivers have been worse, some of them driving aggressively with one hand on the wheel, one hand on the phone and the mind on who know’s what.
I wish all public transit drivers (and private transit drivers, for that matter) could be trusted to use a cell phone only on breaks, so that they could enjoy the convenience of a conversation with the family at lunchtime or a text message from a friend. But until we can be sure of that, I think the MBTA has it right. No cell phones in the driver’s seat, at all.