GRTC driver disciplined for apparently texting while driving

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A GRTC bus driver is taken off the road after she was caught red handed apparently texting while driving.

These are the pictures that got her in trouble. They were snapped by a Henrico man. You can clearly see the driver is not paying attention to what's happening in front of her, but instead, interacting with what looks like a cell phone. It caught one man's attention and now the driver is in the hot seat.

The pictures speak for themselves.

"I grabbed my camera [and] turned it on while keeping my eyes on the road. I simply did this. I took three pictures - four pictures," said Ron Melancon.

Melancon says he captured the images Monday morning at the Three Chopt Road/Forest Avenue intersection as he pulled up beside a GRTC passenger van.

"She simply had a device in the center of her steering wheel and she had her other hand hitting the screen," said Melancon.

The snapshots ended up in the hands of GRTC's CEO.

"I was absolutely disappointed. Safety is our number one priority," said John Lewis, Jr.

Lewis reportedly said the driver didn't admit it, but it was clear something was in her hand. Drivers are only allowed certain items in their compartment including a manifest and radio. But not a cell phone.

"It's not just cell phones, it's Ipods, it's any kind of distractive electronic," said Lewis.

Those personal items should be stowed. Lewis wouldn't discuss how the driver was disciplined only GRTC policy.

"It is very close to zero tolerance. The first issue, no matter what, will result in suspension and the second issue, if found valid, will result in termination," said Lewis.

Melancon says he wasn't aiming to get the driver in trouble.

"My intent was to showcase the hypocrisy where they just recently had an issue with distracted drivers," said Melancon.

The agency is facing a $10-million wrongful death suit after a woman was run over in downtown Richmond last year.

"One hundred percent is my goal. I want to get to a point where we don't have any incidents," said Lewis.

Lewis says GRTC revamped its cell phone policy two years ago and since then have only had a handful of violations. Driving while texting became illegal in Virginia last year.

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