According to a recent article in the Sun Sentinel, some bus drivers in Broward County are not being reprimanded after having accidents and are not properly retrained afterwards.
As if this isn’t bad enough, some bus drivers have also had numerous accidents that were later found to be preventable and yet are still employed.
Our Fort Lauderdale bus accident attorneys know that bus accidents can be dangerous or deadly. We are concerned that some of the bus drivers for Broward County are prone to accidents and are allowed to continue driving without proper training or disciplinary action. County Commissioner Lois Wexler is asking for a review of policies regarding bus driver discipline and we support this review in an effort to help protect kids and the public.
County Audit Findings Show Problems With Bus Safety
After a series of accidents involving bus drivers that have a history of numerous crashes and a settlement of yet another bus accident lawsuit, an audit was performed by county auditor Evan Lukic. His audit found that the department is lacking in three areas that can reduce bus accidents. The three areas include:
- Keeping good records of accidents and who was involved in them.
- Enforcing discipline on the drivers in those crashes and
- Retraining drivers after accidents.
The audit covered years from 2008 to 2012 and showed that six percent of the drivers experienced three to four crashes each. One percent had been involved in five or more accidents during that time.
Lukic looked into the discipline that was received by 15 accident prone drivers and found that seven were not properly disciplined. Transit officials either could not or would not explain the reasons for this lack of discipline. The union contract states that a bus driver can be fired if he or she has more than four preventable accidents in a two year period but clearly this is not occurring.
Bus Driver Policies Failing to Keep Kids Safe
When considering the data, it is clear that there are some major problems in Broward County. For example:
- Over the past four years, the percentage of preventable bus accidents has risen 88 percent. In spite of that, drivers have escaped being disciplined or fired when involved in or responsible for these accidents.
- Retraining bus drivers that have been involved in crashes has been shown to reduce future accidents. Yet, due to the high cost of the training, transit officials have stopped performing this retraining on a regular basis.
- Another budget-related problem comes from the state assessing a fee to check for suspended driver’s licenses. For a period of time, because of this fee, the county stopped checking licenses, so drivers with a suspended commercial license may have been allowed to drive.
These factors have very real consequences. For instance, one long-time bus driver has been in 21 accidents, 12 of which were deemed to have been preventable. That means that more than 50 percent of his accidents could have been avoided, possibly with retraining. According to the department’s policy, he should have been fired in 2007, but was not and instead continued to drive and endanger children.