Today, Nov. 30, 2014, Montreal Personal Safety Examiner released a short trailer video of Montreal bus drivers texting and going through stop signs while bouncing around on Montreal’s deteriorating, patched-up roads. Some visitors say it’s like coming to a Third World country rather than a place to be proud of when they see rubbish bags everywhere and drive the roads full of potholes. Treacherous was a word used more than once.
The Montreal Gazette reported that: “On average, between August 2010 and March 2011, a complaint was filed every other day about a Société de Transport de Montréal driver using an electronic device while behind the wheel, but it remains unclear what, if any, action was taken as a result.
Detailed records obtained by The Gazette through an access to information request show that the grievances came in from people across Montreal Island, travelling on different routes at different times of the day, and heading in every direction imaginable.”
No original documentation was provided for the189 complaints referring to the use of “cellphones” during the specified period. “One complainant alleged a driver on the 206 route was using both hands to text while steering the bus with his forearms.”
Accidents can happen quickly when texting while driving. At what time is a text or an email more important than life itself? At what point is something on your phone more important than the people that you love?
And the number of complaints involving electronic devices being used by Montreal bus drivers is only a fraction of the total number being filed with the STM as formal complaints. With busy lives, many bus passengers who witness violations can’t be bothered to take the time file a report. The STM policy is that when a complaint is registered, it is always investigated, and once the driver has been identified, a meeting is held between the driver and a manager. Following this, disciplinary measures may be imposed if necessary.
In July, 2013, Montreal CTV News reported that, “An STM bus driver was caught sending text messages while driving down the street.” A very frustrated and angry commenter on the story stated: “It seems there are no safety standards on STM buses. I have been on buses that have been dangerously over stuffed with people, I’ve seen doors closing on people’s legs (and begin moving). I’ve seen buses stop in the centre lane of traffic to let people off. You try filing a report with STM and they really don’t give a damn.”
Most Montreal bus drivers are courteous and help ‘all’ passengers with directions when asked – even though, according to the STM, “under Quebec’s French Language Charter, no public employee can be forced to speak any language other than French.” A Montreal Gazette poll rated Montreal transit workers as, “”lazy and rude” (36%), “efficient and friendly” (25%). Sometimes it can be a challenge for anglophone passengers when the driver refuses to, or can’t speak English.
The short ‘Trailer Video’ in this story is only a brief snap-shot of more than 8 months of filming while travelling on Montreal’s transit system. Once editing is complete, a 20-30 minute video will reveal how one STM bus driver (on 2 occasions) parked up on sidewalk in freezing cold winter, with engine running, door open, and the driver strolls into Tim Horton’s for a coffee and donuts for his journey.
In the depths of winter, some buses are so packed full of passengers that the driver, on occasion, must let people board from the rear exit door because the bus is too full to let them in from the front. On one specific trip after leaving the Dorval terminal, there were more than 54 people packed in like sardines in a hot, tight can. And when a driver decides he must read or send a text while driving, it’s a recipe for a tragic accident – causing injury or death to innocent passengers.
Statistics on texting and cell phone use while driving is staggering. Texting while driving makes a driver 23 times more likely to crash, and drivers talking on a cell phone are 4 times more likely to have a car accident. Answering a text takes away your attention for about five seconds. That is enough time to travel the length of a football field.