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Monday, May 11, 2009

Stop Texting 

The Boston Transit Authority plans to ban their public transit operators from having cell phones on their person after a twenty four year old trolley operator caused injuries to 49 people when he rammed another trolley. Reports say he was texting his girlfriend at the time of the accident.

The ban will go into effect as early as next week.

Employees are currently prohibited from talking or texting on their cell phones while working, but they are permitted to carry them.

The New York Times quoted
James A. Aloisi, Jr., the Massachusetts secretary of transportation, "We have to be really firm and say ‘you can’t have them’ because for some people the risk and temptation of using them is too great."

The also talked to Daniel A. Grabauskas, the general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. He said of the operator, “He was looking down at his phone. He noticed red lights, looked up, attempted to apply the brake, and it was too late. He struck a train that was stopped at a red signal."

The aftermath of Friday night’s collision sent 49 of the 124 passengers of the two trains to local hospitals. The trolley operator who had only been on the job 22 months sustained the worst injuries with a broken wrist

The Times reported that in Boston, transit officials have been criticized over safety concerns, especially regarding the Green Line of the M.B.T.A. (known as the “T”), which is the oldest line in its service.

In May of 2008, the operator of a Green Line train rear-ended another train in Newton, and the operator, Terrese Edmonds, 24, was killed. Initial reports focused on the possibility that Ms. Edmonds was using her cell phone, but federal transportation authorities determined that while she had been speeding, they could not confirm that she was using her cell phone at the time.

Reportedly, Boston officials are not releasing the name of the trolley operator in Friday’s accident, though Mr. Grabauskas said that he was from Attleboro, and that he had been disciplined in the past for absenteeism.

The issue is a hot button one with New York and New Jersey both debating whether or not to ban train and bus operators from texting. Duh! No doubt they and the rest of the country should! Anyone who has ever sent a text knows it obviously should be against the law for bus, truck, train and plane operators to text while operating their respective mode of transportation.

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