Watching TV on a smartphone can pass the time during a long bus trip from the Washington area to New York City, but a local passenger was horrified to realize the driver of his bus was paying attention to the television program when he should have been keeping his eyes on Interstate 95.
The Tripper Bus , which left Bethesda at approximately 7 a.m. arrived safely in Manhattan before noon, but the passenger, who asked to remain anonymous, was shaken.
“I was thinking ‘WTF is this guy doing?’ said the passenger, in an email. “Why would he take such a risk? Does he value his life and the lives of the others on this bus?”
From the front passenger seat of the new bus, which had fewer than a dozen passengers on board, the rider recorded the driver’s actions, and forwarded the tape and photos to WTOP.
The driver had mounted a Samsung phone near his left knee, below a tablet containing mapping software.
During the trip up I-95 the video shows the driver repeatedly shifting his eyes from the traffic in front of him toward the TV program.
“I was scared, very scared,” said the passenger. “I couldn’t take my eyes of the road, I couldn’t relax, or sleep, or work.”
The video he provided contains audio from a podcast he was listening to, while videotaping the driver’s actions.
“I tell these guys all the time, put the phones down,” said Martin Gunther, owner of Gunther Charters & Hunt Valley Motor Coach . “It’s like they’re addicted to it.”
Gunther said his company owns and operates buses for several low-fare carriers which don’t have their own buses, including Tripper.
“I talked to him. I said put that phone away, and I’ll talk with you when you get back,” Gunther said.
“Safety is everything to me. I’m glad nobody was hurt,” said Gunther.
Gunther said he has had to fire another driver recently for distracted driving, but it’s unclear whether the driver on the video will continue to operate on the Bethesda to Manhattan route for Tripper.
The passenger said he won’t ride Tripper Bus again.
After his day of meetings in New York City, the bus passenger opted for a different, more expensive mode of travel for his return trip.