The Chicago Tribune reports that, since 2007, thousands of Chicago Transit Authority busses have been ticketed for running red lights.
Of the approximately 16,000 government vehicles that have been caught by Chicago’s red light cameras since the City became home to the largest traffic camera scheme in the US, 4,529 were busses run by the CTA. The tickets go to the individual drivers, but the CTA pays for them, costing the taxpayers approximately $148,000 since 2010. And, while bus drivers are subject to a three-day unpaid suspension for a first infraction, and to termination for a second infraction within two years, 307 busses have been caught by the red light cameras in 2013.
And CTA busses are not the only busses being caught by Chicago’s street cameras. 4,495 infractions were committed by school busses. While Chicago Public Schools checks the backgrounds of its bus drivers upon hiring, and monitors their driving records thereafter, only moving violations appear on a driver’s record. Running a red light is not a moving violation under the law, so CPS does not monitor those incidents.
Fault and the Speedy Bus Driver
Bus accidents occur, and they can cause significant damage. Busses are big and heavy. Anything that collides with one is bound to receive some wear. Drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists are often injured, sometimes severely, when a bus accident occurs. Part of a personal injury attorney’s job when representing an injured party is to establish the fault of the driver. Establishing the fault of a bus driver can be difficult, but fault is easily established if the driver violates a statute when causing the accident.
Under the law, breach of duty must be established in any negligence action. This is a fact-based inquiry, and it differs on a case by case basis. Did the bus driver breach a duty that he owed to the injured party? When the driver violates a statute, like failing to obey a traffic light, establishing that the driver breached a duty is a matter of looking at the injured party and the statute that was violated. If the statute was in place to protect a certain class of people, and the person injured was a member of that class, then the breach of duty is established. Someone injured in an accident caused by a driver running a red light is likely meant to be protected by the statute.
If the injured party is a passenger on the bus, then establishing fault is that much easier. Bus drivers are common carriers, which means, under negligence law, that they are liable for even slight negligence if their passengers get injured while riding on the bus. Running a red light is likely slight negligence as envisioned by the law.