A company had banned its employees from talking or texting on cell phones while working for safety reasons. Now it’s taking the cell phone ban one step further.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) is banning employees from carrying their cell phones on the job. The penalty if they do: termination.
The new rule came after a trolley rammed into another one, injuring the operator and nearly 50 passengers, derailing both trains, and causing MBTA service to be suspended at the Government Center in Boston for several hours. The crash totaled three trolley cars and caused $9.6 million in damage.
The operator of the trolley told investigators from his hospital bed that he was sending a text message to his girlfriend just before the crash. Preliminary information from an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board also shows the driver, Aiden Quinn, ran a red light just before the crash.
Before this incident, MBTA employees were allowed to carry cell phones but were banned from talking or texting while on the road or tracks. A first offense carried a three-day suspension, although the agency had the right to fire violators. MBTA’s General Manager Daniel Grabauskas said the trolley driver in this crash would be fired.
“You are not to get on board that bus or [train or trolley] and have a cell phone on your person or in the cab. Period,” Grabauskas told The Boston Globe. “This is going to be a zero-tolerance policy.”
Officials said the new policy wouldn’t compromise communications in an emergency because cabs are equipped with radios and emergency call buttons.
Transit officials say in the last 12 months, five train and trolley drivers and 13 bus drivers had been cited under the old policy. One bus driver was fired.
State Transportation Secretary James Aloisi Jr. predicts other states and transit agencies would follow MBTA’s lead and ban employees from having cell phones on the job.
Did MBTA make the right decision, or is this overkill? Does your company ban employees from using cell phones while driving for business purposes? Let us know what you think in the Comments Box below.