TTC considering facial scans to test drivers
Published Tuesday, June 17, 2008 6:52PM EDT
The TTC is considering facial scan technology to screen drivers and prevent those who are too tired or impaired from operating a bus, streetcar or subway.
"Prototypes that are available recognize certain features of fatigue or other impairment," TTC chairman Adam Giambrone told CTV Toronto.
The idea is one of many the public transit agency is considering to ensure its drivers are fit to operate vehicles.
The TTC will be asking for a report regarding drug, alcohol and fatigue testing at a meeting Wednesday night.
The employee screening recommendation came out of a report into the death of TTC worker Tony Almeida, who was killed on the job last year. The 38-year-old was crushed by a piece of scaffolding while doing repair work in a subway tunnel.
Investigations by the TTC, police and the Ministry of Labour found safety lapses were blamed in Almeida's death, but the probe also discovered he had traces of marijuana in his system.
Two weeks ago, a TTC bus driver was charged with impaired driving after passengers called police because he was driving erratically.
In the United States, all mass transit drivers already undergo random drug and alcohol testing as part of federal law.
The idea of facial scanning devices, however, is not being welcomed by the TTC's largest union.
"It's an invasion of our privacy and we don't believe it's necessary in any way, shape or form," said Bob Kinnear, president of Amalgamated Transit Union local 113.
Kinnear says cases of workers showing up to work unable to safely drive are very rare.
Some transit users, however, feel the initiative will improve the level of safety on the TTC.
"I know it's infringes upon their rights, but I think we need to think about public safety," said one woman.
"They have everyone's lives in their hands," said another commuter.
The facial scanning devices being proposed are already available in airports.
The TTC says the technology can be very expensive and it's still experimental, so officials want to determine how accurate the testing is before moving forward with the idea.
The report on "fitness for duty" is expected to be released later this summer.
With a report from CTV Toronto's Naomi Parness