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MARTA Looks to Limit Overtime for Bus Drivers and Police Officers to Reduce Safety Hazards and Potential Crashes in Atlanta

Drowsy driving among commercial truckers is a very real problem. In fact, it is such a prevalent problem that the government has to regulate the amount of hours a truck driver can spend behind the wheel in a given day in order to minimize the chances of a trucker falling asleep at the wheel and causing an Atlanta trucking accident. Because of this, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has established hours-of-service rules that govern how many hours a truck driver can spend driving after so many consecutive hours off duty.

When anyone falls asleep at the wheel of a moving motor vehicle, the results can be catastrophic to say the least. This is why the new general manager of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) has announced that he plans to limit the excessive overtime paid to bus drivers and certain police officers in Georgia. He believes it represents a potential safety hazard.

Just like truck drivers aren’t permitted to drive more than 10 hours in a maximum 15-hour workday, many feel that police officers and bus drivers should have to follow similar rules. Currently, MARTA rules permit bus drivers and police officers to drive or patrol 16 hours a day after eight hours off.

The Problem With Overtime?

Police officers and bus drivers may be too exhausted to drive the streets of Atlanta and do their jobs safely when working over 10 hours a day. Working overtime has doubled and even tripled some officers’ and drivers pay, raising serious job safety and drowsy driving concerns. State Rep. Tom Miller, R-Dunwoody, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC), “Based on my experience, and I spent 21 years in the military, fatigue does affect judgment, and excessive fatigue… affects the ability to perform critical tasks.”

According to documents the AJC reviewed, about 90 bus drivers and 130 police officers doubled their salary during a year by working overtime, and several made more money in overtime than in their regular pay.

Although MARTA’s new General Manager Keith Parker said that the excessive overtime hasn’t seemed to correlate yet with Atlanta traffic accidents, he still acknowledged that the number of work hours could put the agency at risk and does raise safety concerns.

What’s Being Done About It?

Overtime for bus drivers will be negotiated with union leaders; however, MARTA police have already reinstituted a rule limiting overtime to 32 hours a week. Additionally, the department is committed to doing a better job of spreading the overtime among officers, said Deputy Chief Joseph Dorsey.

While limiting overtime may help reduce the chances of bus drivers and police officers falling asleep at the wheel, drowsy driving may still occur and be a factor in your Atlanta crash. If you believe your accident was caused by a drowsy driver, please call an experienced Atlanta accident attorney at the Law Offices of Shane Smith today for a free consultation at 770-HURT-999 to find out more.


Shane Smith
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia