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Massachusetts To Transit Employees: No More Cell Phones

In a knee-jerk response to last week's trolley accident, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has banned transit employees from even carrying cell phones on their person when driving the public.
In a knee-jerk response to last week's trolley accident, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has banned transit employees from even carrying cell phones on their person when driving the public.Last week, a trolley driver in Boston rear-ended another trolley that was parked. The collision, which injured the driver more than anyone else, sent 50 people to area hospitals. The driver admitted to police that he was sending text messages from his personal cell phone in the moments before the crash.

A similar, more serious incident in Los Angeles killed people when one transit train ran a signal and hit another due to an engineer who was distracted by text messages.

As of Friday, MBTA employees were allowed to carry cell phones with them, but were prohibited from using them while driving passengers. That measure apparently wasn't enough to prevent the crash on May 9, and the MBTA has responded.

Henceforth, the MBTA is completely banning its employees from carrying cell phones at all while they are driving the public.

The Associated Press reports, "Drivers caught talking or text-messaging on a cell phone will be discharged immediately. There will be a 10-day suspension for a first offense of carrying a phone. A second offense will be punished by a 30-day suspension with recommendation for firing."

That's pretty severe. Nearly everyone carries cell phones, which can be indispensable tools when accidents or other mishaps befall people. These days, most of us carry our cell phones to work (which is even more true if the phone is provided by the employer). Many of us also probably have our cell phones within reach at nearly all times.

Will a measure such as this do more good than harm? It is hard to say one way or the other, but it is nice to see the MBTA take the public's safety (more) seriously.

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