Categorized | Accidents

Trimet Accidents in Portland, Oregon

The TriMet Public Transit Website offers a lot of information to passengers. You can schedule your route online, look at a map of TriMet stops and even purchase tee-shirts and other apparel from the TriMet online store. What you can’t do, however, is read up on the amount of accidents that have occurred in Portland, Oregon as a result of negligence, exhaustion on the part of the drivers and general lack of safety initiatives by the company.

In October, 2011, a TriMet Max approaching the Expo Station did not stop as it should have. Instead it plowed ahead, crashing into a barrier at the end of the line. The driver had begun his shift at 3:45 a.m. And had fallen asleep. The crash occurred at noon.

Some may say that it is simply a human error to fall asleep while driving. However, the driver of the noon train was only one of 21 drivers who passengers reported had fallen asleep while driving a TriMet vehicle in a 3-1/2 year period.

The company declares that the drivers’ shifts are 9.5 hours typically. However, public records show that some drivers are on duty for 18-20 hours per day and are able to rack up over $100,000 in annual salaries due to overtime. It’s no wonder why these drivers are so exhausted. Payroll records show that eight TriMet drivers have made over $100,000 with one making approximately $116,000 in one year, logging over 3,600 hours of driving time. According to calculations reported in The Oregonian, the driver drove an average of 14.1 hours per day times 365 days per year with no vacation.

A retiree reported that the drivers consumed mass quantities of energy drinks to stay alert while they were driving and would sleep at the station between shifts instead of returning home for a full-night’s sleep.

In 2010, a TriMet bus was making a left turn in Portland when it struck five passengers who had a “walk” signal. Two of the five passengers were killed and the other three were injured. The passengers were leaving a comedy club and were crossing the street when the driver, who was driving an out-of-service bus hit the passengers.

In August of the same year, a TriMet bus crashed into a railroad crossing causing damage to the crossing. No passengers were on board at the time and no vehicles were injured in the crash.

In March, 2013 alone several incidents occurred due to negligence of TriMet drivers. A TriMet driver hit a tree and broke his side-view mirror. He did not report the incident and when he was asked how he could drive without the mirror, he replied that he was able to see out of it. In that month, a driver in training broke a crosswalk arm, a bus collided with an automobile causing no injuries and another mirror was damaged. During another bus incident, the mirror became stuck in a tree.

A passenger was hit in a crosswalk when the driver did not see her. She was able to recover fully and ran away from the scene; however, she was later found and appeared to be intoxicated. Other incidences occurred where bus mirrors were broken after hitting various gate arms or vehicles. Automobiles were hit when busses misjudged turns and ran into vehicles.

One driver even hit a parked bicycle. Fortunately, there was no rider on the bus. The bike became embedded in the backdoor of the bus

Fortunately, in 2013, a federal judge sanctioned the company for hiding compelling evidence in the 2010 accident that claimed the lives of the two women. TriMet has been accused of being overly secretive with documentation and evidence regarding this and other accidents.

While bus schedules were cut and the company instituted a large bus fare increase, the organization saw fit to hand out raises to management and non-union personnel.

While accidents will occur, companies should not try to hide evidence that contributed to a tragedy. If drivers are racking up 20 hour shifts per day, they should not be behind the wheel. And the company should implement rigorous safety policies and mandated shift changes that will keep passengers and pedestrians and even the occasional bicycle safe on the roads.

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