Thanks to well-placed cameras the Central Ohio Transit Authority was able to identify a bus driver who was photographed looking at his cell phone while operating the bus. He was fired almost before the video tape had finished playing as Ohio, like many other states, has strict rules against the use of handheld devices by drivers, especially drivers in public service.
The driver, Bennie R. Colquitt Jr., 37, has been driving for COTA since February, and was photographed by a passenger on earlier this month holding a cellphone over the wheel of a bus. The bus rider sent the photo to local TV stations, which passed it on to COTA as well as airing it for viewers.
Colquitt was reprimanded in March for running a red light and again in May after a local resident complained that he was driving too fast in a neighborhood with children. This was the icing on the cake however, and Colquitt no longer works for COTA.
Repeated studies have shown the distracted driving is the leading cause of traffic fatalities in the United States, even outpacing fatalities caused by drunk driving. Despite these statistics not all states have laws forbidding the use of handheld devices, or even texting, while operating a motor vehicle.
For his part Colquitt has said he was not using his phone at the time, just checking to see if he had received a call about the condition of his sick mother. However the image clearly shows Colquitt holding the cell phone of his steering wheel, which seems to indicate that he was at least glancing at the device while driving.
Defensive drivers understand that it only takes a second of taking your eyes off the wheel for something to happen that you need to react to, and if you don’t see it coming, you cannot react to it.
It seems likely Colquitt will fight his firing but since there is photographic evidence of his actions, supplied by someone on the bus, he is going to be fighting an uphill battle.