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Does the Bus Driver Shortage Increase the Risk of a Public Transit Accident in Colorado?

It was barely 18 months ago when RTD announced they were facing a critical shortage of 120 full and part-time bus drivers. As of November 2019, RTD was short 30% of the required number of light rail drivers. The shortage caused RTD to cancel many bus and train routes. While the agency tries to fill these positions, it has questions about safety that could come back to haunt residents along the Front Range who rely on bus and light rail service.

Staffing Shortages = Driver Fatigue

Staffing shortages mean that drivers are operating at the limits of their endurance. Regulatory standards limit train drivers to a maximum of 16 hours in a single shift, with a minimum of 10 hours off between shifts. Similar standards are in place for bus drivers.

However, these long hours and low pay mean that many people don’t want jobs. As a result, RTD and other public transportation companies across the country are struggling to fill much-needed positions. In the interim, bus and train drivers are working longer hours in difficult work environments, both of which can contribute to fatigue and burnout. This is where it becomes dangerous, because drivers who are tired and tired of their jobs are drivers who don’t pay attention to the road and rail ahead.

Fast Hiring = Expedited Training

The push to fill positions means that many drivers may be driving down the road with minimal training under their hats. While eager to do the job, inexperienced drivers have less skill and training to rely on when making decisions. They could misjudge another motorist’s actions at an intersection, miss a pedestrian by the side of the road, or fail to recognize that the vehicle is traveling too fast for conditions.

Nationwide, driver inexperience is a common factor in public transit accidents. While RTD is working to improve training and monitoring, it’s quite possible the rush to fill positions could end up putting passenger health and safety at risk.

The team at Sloat, Nicholson & Hoover, P.C. represent clients in Colorado who are injured in a public transit accident. We invite you to contact our team at (303) 447-1144 for more information about our legal services and to schedule a consultation to discuss your claim for personal injuries.

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