The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has launched a web page that provides information about the Commercial Driver’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, a database to be launched in early January 2020.
The database’s purpose is to track and identify “drivers who are not legally permitted to operate commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) due to drug and alcohol program violations,” the FMCSA said.
In 2012, Congress directed the secretary of transportation to establish a national clearinghouse containing commercial motor vehicle operators’ violations of FMCSA’s drug and alcohol testing program in Section 32402 of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21). This rule implements that mandate and responds to recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board.
FMCSA says on the website that registration with the database will open in the fall and all operators who hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or commercial driver’s permit (CLP) must comply with the requirement in order to continue working in a safety-sensitive role.
According to a story by The Spokesman-Review, bus operators employed by the Spokane Transit Authority (STA) in Spokane, Wash., have seen an increase of assaults by riders.
According to the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1015, which represents the STA operators, there’s been seven incidents since December. Bus operators have reported multiple cases of verbal abuse, physical abuse, spitting and threats.
Click here to read more from The Spokesman-Review.
Over the past couple of years, SMART TD has been trying to help bus operators mitigate assaults by providing training at regional meetings on how to de-escalate conflicts. SMART TD has also been lobbying for stricter laws to protect all bus operators from assault.
Last month in Olympia, Wash., passengers on a city bus witnessed their driver being brutally beaten in an attack that was caught on video for the world to see. The footage is alarming and sickening. It was not, unfortunately, uncommon.
From sexual and physical assaults to verbal abuse, the nation’s bus drivers are facing an epidemic of hostility. In the New York area alone there are seven attacks per month on average that range from spitting to beatings to stabbings, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority. Other cities see the same level of hostility against drivers, meaning it is time to address this problem at the national level.
Last fall, the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, called on the Department of Transportation and Federal Transit Administration to hold a summit on bus driver assaults. Today, with the blood-soaked face of the Olympia bus driver fresh in our minds, we renew that call.
We must evaluate new measures, and new technologies, being used successfully in parts of our country and abroad to protect drivers and their passengers, who often get dragged into the fray. The installation of Plexiglas partitions to separate drivers from passengers or other changes to a driver’s seating area, are options to consider. Another is the presence of uniformed police officers on buses, and tougher penalties for those who do attack drivers. Other steps include video surveillance and better training for drivers. In New York City, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has started offering rewards of up to $2,000 for information that leads to the arrest and indictment of those assaulting drivers.
The solutions to curb violence against bus drivers are out there – we have simply lacked the will to implement them. This must change, and we can start by holding a national summit with transit unions, public transportation leaders, local law enforcement and the appropriate federal government agencies.
Let’s not wait until statistics on physical attacks become numbers of fatalities. The men and women who help keep America moving deserve better. They deserve the safest working environment this country can offer.
Services for SMART Transportation member and Los Angeles Metro bus operator Olivia Gamboa, 47, who was killed June 12 in a head-on crash with a speeding flatbed tow truck while operating her bus, have been finalized, Bus Vice President Bonnie Morr reports.
A viewing will be held Friday, June 28, at 6 p.m. at the Rose Hills Memorial Park’s SkyRose Chapel at 3888 Workman Mill Rd. in Whittier, Calif. The telephone number for Rose Hills Memorial Park is (562) 699-0921.
Funeral services will be Saturday, June 29, at 11 a.m. at St. Benedict Catholic Church located at 1022 W. Cleveland Ave. in Montebello, Calif. The church’s telephone number is (323) 721-1184.
The funeral will be followed by interment at Rose Hills Memorial Park.
Gamboa, a member of SMART Transportation Division Local 1563 at El Monte, Calif., is survived by her husband, Bernardo, and three daughters. The Los Angeles Times reported Gamboa came from a family of bus operators and that her husband and one of her daughters were also Metro employees.
According to television station KTLA in Los Angeles, Gamboa was a 13-year Metro veteran and a grandmother.
The accident happened at S. Broadway and 5th St. at approximately 5:15 a.m. the Los Angeles Fire Department said.
The tow truck was headed southbound on Broadway when its driver ran a red light and collided with the bus, witnesses told police officers.
“A citizen estimated the tow truck was driving about 60 miles per hour,” Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Steve Dailey said. “The speed limit for here is about 30 miles per hour.”
The bus was in the intersection when it was hit and knocked down a fire hydrant, sending water high up into the air. The tow truck plowed into a nearby 7-Eleven store.
The driver of the tow truck, 43-year-old Yousef Adhami, remains hospitalized. He has had multiple suspensions and had surrendered his license after his last infraction, KTLA reported.
Gamboa is the first SMART TD member killed while on duty in 2013.
Her tragic death is not the first to be mourned by her fellow members. On May 20 last year, Los Angeles Metro bus operator Alan Thomas was murdered aboard his bus in West Hollywood, Calif., by a lone gunman. Thomas was also a member of Local 1563.
Los Angeles County bus drivers say they are regularly becoming ill — sometimes while behind the wheel — from pesticides sprayed inside their vehicles by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
At least 14 Metro drivers are pursuing workers’ compensation claims, and more than 110 have signed a petition that demands a halt to the spraying, according to their attorney. Some operators are on medical leave, and a few say they have left Metro because of repeated exposure.
LOS ANGELES — A Thursday morning in February started like most for bus operator and UTU Local 1564 member Darwin Dawson — making fruit and vegetable protein shakes for fellow Division 18 workers as part of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s health and wellness program.
By afternoon, Dawson was standing on the set of the Jimmy Kimmel Live show in Hollywood, collecting $650 in cash from host Kimmel — and it had nothing to do with buses or fruit and vegetable protein shakes (the latter a southern California thing, so don’t ask).
So let’s back up and sit a spell for this yarn, as Dawson is one fascinating fellow.
It begins in the garage of Dawson’s home in Redondo Beach, which he converted to a private sports bar for his friends and family. On display everywhere were old leather football helmets, antique cleats, brightly colored neon beer signs, five television screens — a memorabilia laden man-cave if ever there was one.
And, somehow, there was room for Dawson also to restore vintage Chevy pick-up trucks — the source of cash to keep those friends and family in beer and pretzels during Angels, Clippers, Dodgers and Rams ballgames.
Somehow, some hard-to-find ’49 Caddy parts found their way into the garage — the source of a barter that would lead to the Kimmel show. But let’s not get ahead of this story.
Some years back, in exchange for hard-to-find ’49 Caddy chrome bumper and other parts, Dawson acquired a 100-pound, 6’7″ fiberglass statue of basketball legend Michael Jordan, which fit oh so well in the home sports bar a/k/a Dawson’s garage.
Man-caves can change, and when Dawson decided it was time to redecorate — from a sports bar motif to an auto/bus motif — the Jordan statue become surplus. So Dawson put it up for sale at $650 on Craigslist.
Then came the call from producers of the Kimmel show. Kimmel wanted the statue as a gift to present Jordan on his birthday.
So, with help from Dawson’s 12-year-old son, into a Dawson-restored ’68 Chevy pick-up went the 100-pound statue, and down the road went Dawson and his son to the Jimmy Kimmel Live set in nearby Hollywood — a building but 100 yards from the route of the LACMTA bus Dawson drives.
In his driver’s uniform — at Kimmel’s request — Dawson gained his few minutes of national fame, selling the statue to Kimmel not for the $600 Kimmel offered, but the $650 Dawson insisted on receiving.
Hey, he’s a UTU brother, and UTU brothers and sisters don’t let even the Jimmy Kimmels of the world get the better in negotiations.
Basketball fans may notice something amiss in the photo. Yes, Jordan’s jersey shows #32, not the #23 Jordan wore with the Chicago Bulls.
Kimmel noticed that discrepancy, and Dawson had the answer. The statue was never “authorized” by Jordan — as were the legendary Nike Air Jordan shoes — but was created in the Philippines, perhaps by a dyslectic sculptor of knock-offs.
While insomniac Americans watched Dawson on Kimmel’s late night show, Dawson was sound asleep. He begins his day with the LACMTA at 4 a.m.
Late-night television host Jimmy Kimmel, right, pays UTU member Darwin Dawson for the Michael Jordan statue seen in the background.