A National Transportation Safety Board investigation shows a collision between two trains in California in 2008 that killed 25 people and injured 102 more was caused by the engineer running a red light while text-messaging.
The NTSB also recommended that all commuter rail lines in the nation install cameras to monitor train operators.
The report says Metrolink engineer Robert Sanchez, who was killed in the crash, had sent 43 texts on the day of the collision, some of them to young railroad fans. He intended to sneak at least one of them on to the train later that day in violation of workplace rules.
The lead attorney in lawsuits against Metrolink said Sanchez’s employer knew he’d engaged in this kind of behavior before, but hadn’t disciplined or fired him.
The NTSB says the conductor of the Union Pacific train that was struck also sent and received text messages while on duty the day of the crash.
Metrolink has already installed cameras in many of its cabs and locomotives and has banned the use of cell phones by engineers.
NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said the industry “must find a way to wrap our arms around the pervasive problem of transportation operators using wireless devices while on the job, whether that job is driving a bus, flying an airplane, or operating a train.”
Just days after the report on the train crash was released, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a ban on texting for commercial drivers of large trucks and buses. The ban is effective immediately.
What sorts of workers should be banned, for safety reasons, from texting and/or using cell phones at work? Let us know in the Comments Box below.