Texting on the Train: Dangers of Distracted Conductors
With 41 states in the U.S. banning text messaging while operating a motor vehicle, it is clear that law enforcement is attempting to deal with the hazards posed by screen-obsessed motorists. Indeed, statistics indicate that texting while driving is even more unsafe than driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, primarily due to the toll it takes on a driver’s ability to react to things light red lights, cars in front of them, or unexpected obstructions in the roadway. Drivers now face tickets and other penalties when they’re caught in the act.
While distracted motor vehicle operation has been addressed by the majority of state legislatures throughout the nation, the issue of texting train conductors seems to be sliding by under the radar. This is especially troubling, considering the previous damage caused by texting train conductors across the globe. California is an exception to the rule. Its Public Utilities Commission passed a ban on texting on the job in reaction to the grisly Los Angeles text-and-train crash.
High-profile texting train accidents
In one of the worst recent texting conductor crashes, an Indiana accident racked up $5 million dollars in property damage after five locomotives and 25 other cars were derailed. After determining that no role was placed by track problems, mechanical conditions, or alcohol/drug use by crewmembers, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) pointed a finger at the texting CSX conductor whom it now claims is largely responsible for the three-train crash. The crash occurred just two miles from a 2010 train derailment, but dwarfed the earlier accident with regard to the emergency effort required to address it.
Save SMSing for later
These accidents are eerie reminders of other horrific crashes such as the aforementioned Los Angeles accident that took 25 lives, which also involved a texting engineer. In a much less tragic case, there was public outrage when a New Jersey Transit worker was found to be texting with both hands while driving a locomotive on a light rail train. And in perhaps the saddest accident yet, a conductor in Spain was talking on a cellphone during a crash that claimed 79 fatalities, with many more injuries.
When train accidents cause severe injuries and death, seek a tough, fair railroad lawyer to handle your case.