In a way, Broward County bus driver Charles Butler has been lucky. Despite hitting 10 cars, losing his driver's license five times, showing up late and sparking a lawsuit, he remains behind the wheel.
One of Butler's bus accidents cost taxpayers $73,005. The 2009 accident sent a passenger in the other vehicle to the hospital for knee surgery.
Though Broward's policies say drivers with five "preventable'' accidents in a two-year period face termination, Butler's personnel records show he hit that threshold in 2007.
To date, Butler's been disciplined 18 times and served a total 18 days of suspension for showing up late since he started work in 2001. He's served a total 17 days of suspension for his role in 21 bus accidents.
Twelve of the crashes were determined to be "preventable" by the five-member board that reviews accidents.
The Broward bus driver contract says drivers will face increasing discipline for crashes in a two-year period, and can be fired for the fifth accident.
Under that policy, Butler could have been fired in 2007, when he slid into the rear bumper of a vehicle on Stirling Road in Dania Beach. He'd hit a car in Hollywood the month before, hit a fixed object at the Lauderhill Mall two months before that, and hit two cars from behind in Hollywood and Davie in 2005.
President William Howard of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1267 said he doesn't remember a bus driver ever having been fired in Broward for poor driving history.
On July 16, 2010, Butler was warned by transit officials in a memo that if he had one more chargeable accident, he would be terminated.
After that date, he was in six more accidents, including hitting two vehicles from the rear. But four weren't blamed on Butler. And by then, his accident clock had reset.
He's still waiting to hear whether he'll be disciplined in his most recent accident, when he hit the rear of a vehicle in Pembroke Park on Nov. 21...
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Via Billy Corben