Bus driver could be fired over Kindle on the dash
A Portland, Ore., bus driver has been suspended and could be fired by the local transit agency after a passenger recorded him on celll phone video in a way that suggests he was glancing at his Kindle while driving in morning traffic on Interstate 5.
Shortly after the video came to the attention of TriMet management, driver Lahcen Qouchbane was pulled off his route and place on administrative leave.
Quochbane's lawyer contends the riders were mistaken and that the driver was not reading anything on the Kindle unit he had left on the dash after a layover. He accused TriMet of overreacting.
The video, posted on YouTube, clearlly shows the Kindle on the dash but iappears inconclusive as to whether there was actually reading matter on the screen. However, the video clearly shows the operator driving the bus with one hand -- and at one point one elbow -- and at one point he appears to reach down and adust the unit. His lawyer says he could have been reaching for the heat or windshield wiper controls.
One of the most common complaints to public transit agencies is that drivers are operating vehicles while distracted by electronic devices. I can attest to how disconcerting that can be: Duuring a recent trip to a small island off the coast of Sicily, my wife and I were taking a bus that follows a sharply winding route along cliffs overlooking the sea. While we were on the bus, and in the middle of a steady rain, the driver pulled out his cell phone and engaged in a lengthy conversation while guiding the bus around hairpin turns with one hand.
Obviously, we survived, and because we don't speak Italian we might never know whether the subject of the conversation was so compelling it justified the fright factor. Somehow I don't think so. But if the Portland driver loses his job, we know where he can apply for a new one.