MONTREAL – Étienne Bessette was taking a cab home from Trudeau International airport on Tuesday when he noticed his taxi driver was falling asleep at the wheel, he claims, at least 10 times.
“I asked him, ‘hey are you OK?’ The first time it happened, he basically lifted his head up and said everything is fine,” Bessette told Global News.
The art director takes taxis on a regular basis and insisted this was the first time he’s been worried about safety.
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“At some point he nodded off again and I started taking pictures,” said Bessette.
“Maybe this guy has a problem, maybe it’ll happen again. At some point, somebody could get hurt. I was just hoping it wasn’t going to be me.”
The incident happened on Highway 40, in gridlocked traffic.
“It was kind of frightening to be honest,” said Bessette.
The Quebec taxi drivers’ union said it’s the first time it’s heard of such an incident.
“It’s unacceptable,” said Benoit Jugand with RTAM, the union that represents 4,000 drivers in Quebec.
The union explained drivers started working longer hours after “riding-sharing” companies like Uber started surfacing.
“It’s very sad to see a taxi driver that needs to work 12 to 14 hours a day,” said Jugand, who is hoping the government will adopt clear legislation with strict regulations, including limited work hours and better follow-up of drivers.
Bessette has filed a complaint with the Montreal Taxi Bureau, which has launched an investigation.
In a statement to Global News, the bureau said anyone who feels unsafe in a taxi is encouraged to call police.
The employee was sitting in the control booth at the back of the train.