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Boston Green Line Train Crash that Injured Dozens is A Reminder of Why Text Messaging And Driving Don’t Mix

The Daily News Tribune says that during the time it takes to compose and send a simple text message while driving (requiring the driver to take his or her eyes off the road), a motor vehicle will likely have traveled the length of a football field-enough time and distance for at least one motor vehicle crash to occur.

On Friday, a Boston Green Line MBTA train did more than that when its operator, who was sending a text message to his girlfriend, ran a red light, causing a multi-trolley crash and injuring at least 46 people. Three of the trolleys involved in the Boston train accident were totaled, and another trolley was damaged.

According to the MBTA, Quinn, an Attleboro resident, failed to step on the brakes soon enough. He will likely be fired and could face criminal charges. As an aside, his private driving record indicates that he was cited for speeding three times-in 2002 and 2007.

The MBTA prohibits its drivers from using their cell phones and similar devices in any capacity while driving. Yet this rule is often ignored. At least 9 MBTA trolley operators and bus drivers have been suspended for talking on cell phones or texting while on the job. Over the weekend, MBTA officials said its drivers are going to be banned from even carrying such devices while at work.

Texting While Driving
Text messaging while driving any kind of vehicle is considered dangerous, and some states have put laws in place to ban texting and/or talking on the cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. In Massachusetts, only school bus drivers are banned from talking on a cell phone while driving.

According to a 2006 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, driver distraction during the three seconds prior to a motor vehicle crash is the number one cause of 78% of auto crashes and near collisions. Dialing a cell phone, reading, and applying makeup are the three activities that appeared to increase the risk that a driver might be involved in a car crash by three times. Texting while driving has been cited as a reason that some fatal train accidents and deadly motor vehicle crashes have occurred over the past few years.

Not only does texting require that a driver not look at the road while composing or reading a text message, but he or she will likely have to take at least one hand off the steering wheel to hold or operate the cell phone or PDA device. In order to avoid causing a Boston train accident or a Massachusetts car crash, drivers must have both eyes on the road at all times, with both hands controlling the steering wheel and their mind focused on the task at hand-which is to drive safely.

Negligent driving by an MBTA trolley operator can be grounds for an MBTA train accident lawsuit.

Editorial: The dangers of texting while driving, The Daily News, May 12, 2009
City man driver in T crash, The Sun Chronicle, May 12, 2009
Related Web Resources:
T crash puts spotlight on hiring criteria, Boston.com, May 12, 2009
Cell Phone Driving Laws, GHSA
MBTA

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