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Friday, January 26, 2007

More on the jerk bus driver in Eugene

The guy who separated a panicked passenger from his two small kids told his side of the story to the Register-Guard, and they published it today. For me, the only way his story hangs together is if the guy's hearing is so badly impaired that he couldn't make out what the passengers were screaming. Even after the incident was over, he still didn't realize what had happened. Should drivers be that oblivious to what's transpiring behind them? You've got to wonder if maybe another line of work wouldn't suit him better.

Comments (11)

If I were Mr. Dreier's employer I would be pretty pleased that he decided to go public with his hearing problem and his wrenching feeling of personal responsibility. It overwhelms his argument that he was scrupulously abiding by my policies and training. And if, heaven forfend, I've created a culture whereby lowly drivers are discouraged rom acting of their own volition, I am greatly relieved to step to the microphones and say, "It absolutely is not our policy to strand little children by the road" and fire him.

What I'm not hearing from him is, "Of course I should have stopped right away and re-opened the door." It's more like "I'm sorry this happened," with more than a hint of "You shouldn't have gotten back on the bus to get your stroller."

As for the Eugene transit geniuses, the whole idea that the driver will be segregated from the passengers and not know what's going on on board is a recipe for disaster.

Call me crazy, but if a guy can't hear someone yelling at him from the back of the bus - he can't hear a car honking at him either. That's a safety issue.

The driver...who says he was devastated by what happened...wears TWO hearing aids. He also says he thought the passengers meant there were kids in the back of the 60 foot bus not that kids had become separated from their dad at the last stop.
However, to INSTANTLY call the guy a "jerk" (when he went public without being prompted by Lane Transit District in any way) seems to me to be an outrageous and vicious reaction to a human mistake. Or are there instant ASSUMPTIONS about him because he's a bus driver(read public employee)? Oh no, wait, wait, I forgot! Sorry I forgot to remember that no one here has EVER made a mistake of any kind, anytime, anywhere for any reason. Can I get an "Amen" brother?

I called the guy a "jerk" in this post to help readers identify whom I was talking about -- because that's what I called him when the story first broke.

In retrospect, maybe he's not a jerk. He did a very jerky thing, though, and if it's not due to a bad attitude, then it's due to a disability that should land him in a nice desk job somewhere.

If he still can't understand verbal instructions with TWO HEARING AIDS, then he shouldn't be driving a 60 foot long bus.

Don't blame the Union, though: after reading his carefully crafted explanation of the events he sounds more like management material to me. Maybe he can oversee ADA compliance or children's outreach.

"A passenger came forward, upset that I would not stop the bus and let passengers off. I tried to explain that I was now aware of the situation but was unable to do anything but continue to the next station," Dreier said in the report.

Unable or unwilling?

I don't believe him AND he shouldn't have been driving a bus in the first place. If his hearing problem caused the sort of audio confusion that led to this event, the "testing" should have caught it. What the hell else would you need to test hearing for other than safety issues. I would think rider safety would be the goal of all such tests. I suspect LTD's test would pass almost anyone. Even if you accept his story at face value, the driver is at fault for not having the common sense to acknowlege BEFORE the incident (which could have turned out far worse) that his impairment might endanger others. Coming forward now just means he realizes that stonewaling would just make him look even worse - he gets no points from me for his "apology". LTD is equally at fault for not having a valid test.

So if the passengers were yelling, "you just ran over two kids", the bus driver would what?????? Not hear them????
Continue to the next stop???
Then later he'd start cooking up some lame story with his management????

Can't hear=Can't drive

Wow...Such tolerance. Here's hoping all you scapegoaters get to suffer the same.

I wear two hearing aids. I also drive, but not a public bus. I hear just fine in conditions where there is not a lot of competing noise. Restaurants are the absolute worst, with lots of varying conversations interspersed with utensils, plates and cups being moved about. I can well imagine the driver's situation, operating under a new set of directives about how he should react in given situations and then not being able to clearly discern the multiple people shouting and the misinterpreting what the father was saying. Although I don't know what circumstances were along the way between the two stops, I suspect that continuing to the next stop may still have been the safest thing to do by the time he had a better idea of the circumstances....certainly better than slamming on the brakes in the lane of traffic and letting a rider off far from the curb.

I'm thankful that nothing untoward happened after the incident, but I think those condemning this driver for doing his job, under the employer's directives, following a misunderstanding for which he openly apologizes, need to get down off their high horses.

I personally think we'd be doing ourselves more a favor by removing idiots with cellphones from vehicular control than castigating those with corrected hearing. Drivers with cellphones are far more likely to run over your child, pet or you. I can attest that thrice those with evidently perfect hearing nearing ran me down in the street because they weren't paying attention to what they were doing because they were conversing on their cellphone while attempting to legally manuever a couple of tons of steel and glass on Portland's public streets.

People driving buses put many more people in danger than people driving cars.

For bus drivers, can't hear = can't drive.

I'll bet you that insurance statistics do not uphold your assertion, Kari. Bus drivers already have higher standards for their driving skills and are required to prove that. The biggest risk to people using buses, is idiots using cars.

This driver could hear. He has two hearing aids. That means he is not profoundly deaf. His hearing has been corrected to near normal. Any restriction placed upon bus drivers should also be placed upon ANY driver. If you want to make the roads safer for all, you should be attempting to ban male drivers between 15 and 25 years of age.

Good luck.

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