MetroAccess Drivers Asleep at the Wheel - NBC4 Washington

MetroAccess Drivers Asleep at the Wheel

MetroAccess drivers caught napping while driving

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    MetroAccess drivers got caught on camera napping while on duty!

    It's happened 87 times between July 2008 and last month, according to a report in the Washington Examiner.

    In at least one incident, the MetroAccess vehicle was actually in motion as the driver slept.  The paper says one driver was busted running into a curb and blowing a tire while transporting two disabled passengers.

    MetroAccess provides service for disabled and elderly riders unable to use Metro trains or buses.

    The cameras constantly film the drivers, but preserve the recordings only when the vehicle makes an unusual move, such as braking too hard, accelerating too quickly, or hitting something.

    The drivers caught sleeping were working either eight, 10 or 12-hour shifts, and their union president fears things will get worse when the shifts change to 13 hours later this week.

    "It's going to make it harder," said Wayne Baker with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1764.

    The workers will be driving 12 hours and have a one-hour break.

    Metro doesn't believe the shift change will worsen the issue.  Spokesman Dan Stessel calls the safety concerns a "red herring" because union workers don't want to work the longer shifts.

    Stessel said the drivers would get adequate rest by having 12  hours off between shifts and working consistent schedules three days a week, as drivers for other transit agencies do.

    Metro is planning to discuss the safety implications of worker fatigue at its Thursday meeting.