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2 Investigators: CTA Vows To Improve Screening Of Bus Drivers After $60 Million In Settlements

(CBS) -- It's a $60-million problem: That's the cost of settlements and judgments paid out by the CTA for bus accidents.

As 2 Investigator Pam Zekman reports, some of the accidents have far greater consequences.

In one case, video recorded on board a CTA bus showed a bus driver going west on Grand Avenue. He accelerates to get around a car and barrels into the intersection on a red light, crashing into a car going south on Kedzie.

The driver of that car, Miriam Bragar, suffered a ruptured spleen, broken bones, and a traumatic brain injury.

"It is painful," said Bragar. "I suffer and I suffer every day."

The bus driver, Anthony Miller, was hired just 11 months before that accident; despite his five speeding tickets and other violations for negligent driving, disregarding a traffic control device, and improper lane usage.

"They definitely should've evaluated him more properly before letting him get on the road to potentially harm not only his passengers but others on the road,"  said Bragar's attorney, Greg Harris.

Bragar recently won about $8 million from the CTA for Miller's negligent driving.

"He actually had an accident two days before this accident," Harris said.

The CTA primarily relies on whether a bus driver applicant's license is in good standing with the Illinois Secretary of State.

As the 2 Investigators previously disclosed, the CTA doesn't check court traffic ticket records before or after they've hired a bus driver.

So, risky drivers were on the street.

Like one who killed a pedestrian near 1800 South Halsted, and another at Michigan and Ohio that left Amy Koplin unable to walk after a bus crushed her feet.

"It all could have been prevented just by looking at a driving record," said Koplin.

Now the Bragars are joining that plea.

"Because ultimately people's lives are in their hands when they drive those buses," said Miriam's husband, Nick Bragar.

CTA President Dorval Carter says safety is his high priority.

"There are a lot of people we reject even today because of their driving records," he said.

When asked if he was going to do something about the issues raised in our this report and a report that aired last November, Carter responded, "The answer is yes."

"The question is should we be more selective or is there information we should have to improve our selection," Carter said. "I think that is what we are really talking about."

Carter said the answer to that question is absolutely.

To avoid crashes like the one that left Miriam Bragar injured.

Carter told 2 Investigator Pam Zekman he has instructed staff to start looking at ways to do all this, and promised that changes will be made to better screen drivers before and after they are hired.

The bus driver in question, Anthony Miller, declined to comment for this report, but has maintained he was not at fault. He was fired after the Bragar accident.

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