Sunday Telegraph - Sunday 22 May, 2005

Bus driver apologises for text messages

By Adam Bell and Tony Vermeer
Page: 11
Section: General News
Region: Sydney Circulation. 716,326
Type: Capital City Daily
Size: 185.64 sq.cms.
NSW State Transit stood down the driver, who was photographed in the act by two students aboard his bus. 

Officials for the Rail, Tram and Bus Union said yesterday the driver told State Transit he was wrong and was sorry.

He said that he had no excuse for his behaviour.

The officials said "he just wants to wait and see what punishment he will cop".

The girls on the bus used their own mobile-phone camera to photograph the driver sending messages while he was in traffic.

The incident occurred on a school bus en route from PLC Croydon to Drummoyne last Friday.

The driver faces the sack pending the outcome of a State Transit investigation that assessed closed-circuit TV footage of the incident.

In NSW, drivers face an on-the-spot fine of $225 and can lose three demerit points for using a mobile phone while driving.

The same penalties apply for professional drivers.

It is also illegal to use a mobile when stopped, but not parked, such as while waiting at traffic lights.

Bus drivers were recently warned in a management newsletter about the consequences of being caught on mobile phones.

Harold Scruby from the Pedestrian Council of Australia said existing penalties were inadequate because there was an epidemic of Sydney drivers using mobile phones.

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