Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Overreaction Again and Again

I'm not surprised at the MBTA's newest regulation that T drivers cannot even carry a cell phone while on the job. I'm also not surprised that there is talk about increasing the age level at which someone can become a T driver. ...Not surprised, but disappointed that once again people are responding to the wrong thing.

The T already has a policy in place that T drivers cannot use their cell phones while driving (the policy may go beyond drivers and driving, but I would need to go back and look that up...not really necessary for my point). So why enact a new policy when they do not effectively enforce the existing policy? Why punish everyone for the improper actions of the few? Why? ...So they can look like they're doing something and gain support from the public. Strike while iron is hot!

We have too many policies, laws, regulations, etc., that have been implemented because a lesser one has been ineffectively managed. While I am just as angry as others over the accident that led to this new policy, I don't agree with the new policy. Yes, get angry over T driver cell phone use while driving, but don't use it as an excuse to create a new policy that punishes everyone and will be almost impossible to monitor. Create a policy that makes sense. Reinforce the existing "no use"policy by making cell phone use an immediate termination offense. Get T riders involved in monitoring and reporting infractions.

People need to learn that they don't have to answer the phone just because it rings. They need to know (and I guess be told) not to text while driving. But I don't believe they should be prevented from having the phone on them. Cell phones are integrated into our lives and people need to be responsible with them.

Policies should not be implemented on the basis of something arbitrary and reactionary. That's why I also question too quick a judgment on increasing the age level of T drivers. How many drivers at the T are already in the age range that would be cut out? What are the statistics of accidents, based on age (high and low age)? What are the ages of drivers involved in similar accidents all over the country? Instead of a knee-jerk reaction to this situation, the T needs to review all the data. One immature driver does not mean that all drivers in that age range are immature.

The bottom line for me is that the people who would violate a "no cell phone use while driving the train or bus" policy will be the same ones who will violate the "don't carry a cell phone..." policy. Who suffers -- the rest of the drivers! The responsible people who can ignore the ringing phone (hey, put it on silent or shut it off) or who can wait until they're off the train or bus before making a call or texting should not be punished.

What do you think?

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