- Associated Press - Thursday, October 2, 2014

HONOLULU (AP) - Some Honolulu municipal bus drivers say new messaging systems on buses are distractions to their driving.

TheBus upgraded its messaging system and data terminals mounted near dashboards alert drivers of new text messages with beeps, Hawaii News Now (https://bit.ly/1pIDq8u) reported.

“When the beep comes on it just startles you,” said driver Jerry Teves said of the system that began last week.

Messages contain information such as directions to adjust timing because the bus is ahead of schedule. Teves said they’re a distraction.

“Just the second that you take your eye off the road to try and read the text, it’s dangerous,” Teves said.

The president of Oahu Transit Services disagrees. The enhanced system is safer than calling drivers by radio and having them look at paper schedules, said Roger Morton.

“It’s a lot safer to look at the heads up display than it is to refer to the other methods that have been used,” he said.

It’s a copy of text messaging systems used by mainland bus companies on the mainland and will improve performance, Morton said.

Teves is skeptical. Drivers naturally react when they hear the alarm, Teves said.

“It could be a road closed ahead. So they have to try and retrieve the message to see what it’s all about,” he said.

Some riders contend Hawaii’s distracted driver law should apply to text messages sent to bus drivers.

“As a bus driver that’s for the public, they should be doing the same thing,” Allan Halverson said.

“It’s not safe,” Avery Kealoha said. “That’s a big automobile to control.”

Adjustments will be made to send fewer alerts and to discourage drivers from immediately reading screens, Morton said.

“One of the things that I’ve asked our staff to do is to see if we can modify our system so messages are not sent if the bus is moving,” he said.

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Information from: KHNL-TV, https://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/

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