Monday, 19 March 2012

Alabama May Ban Bus Drivers from Using Phones

We Brits are now more or less used to the idea that using a mobile phone when you are driving is a generally 'bad thing' and against the law.

So it might come as a considerable shock to discover that in America things are very, very different.

A story I picked up recently from US media demonstrated that in many states it is not only perfectly acceptable for a bus driver to chat to his wife on the phone whilst piloting a busload of children to school, it's perfectly legal.

But things seem to be slowly changing. The latest state to have had a long, hard think about the wisdom of letting bus drivers chat to their pals when they should be concentrating on the road ahead is Alabama. The southern state is now looking to join an increasing number of US states that prohibit school bus drivers from using mobile phones while transporting children around the state.

Alabama's House of Representatives passed a bill last Wednesday which will mean that school bus drivers can only use their phones in an emergency or if the bus is parked at the side of the road.

The bill was sponsored by Representative Joe Hubbard, who warned of accidents that could be caused by a bus driver calling his girlfriend or texting her pictures. He said the impetus for his bill was a phone he received from a constituent worried that her child's school bus driver was too distracted by talking on his cellphone to enough attention to the road.

Ironically, it would have been entirely legal for her to make that call while driving. Let's hope she didn't.

Some 19 states in America, and the District of Columbia, currently prohibit drivers of school buses from talking on their phones while transporting children. That's 19 out of 50 states, so you can see there's still some way to go.

On the face of it, a federal Department of Transportation rule seems to prevent any commercial vehicle driver from using a mobile electronic device whilst driving, but that applies only to vehicles that cross state lines or transport hazardous materials within a state, which seems a little arbitrary.

The Alabama bill still needs to be approved by the state Senate and then signed off by the Governor before it can become law.

I understand there were 260 reported accidents caused by Alabama school bus drivers during the last academic year, down from 301 the pervious school year. Of those in the most recent school year, 63 were cause by a distracted bus driver.


  1. This would be a great thing because most bus drivers use their phones while driving and the lives of all passengers could be in danger.

    They have a huge responsibility so they have to be 100% concentrated on driving and not other activities....careless driving Toronto it's punished very rough and I'm glad about this because in this area the number of car accidents increased lately:(

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