Last Saturday, (6/14/08), a San Francisco MUNI train crashed into another train in San Francisco, injuring 16 people, including the drivers of the two trains. It has been reported that at the time of the crash, a rear-end collision, the driver of the rear train was traveling nearly six times the speed limit, and did not slow down. MUNI investigators are now looking into whether or not the driver was on the cell phone at the time of the wreck. Although MUNI drivers usually communicate via their radios, after the accident, surveillance camera footage shows the driver of the rear train with a cell phone in hand, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
My last few blog entries have discussed cell phone usage while driving, and new laws, some of which specifically address bus drivers using cell phones. Apparently, MUNI’s policy prohibits the use of cell phones while driving, which mirrors California law, however, for a policy to have any effect, it needs to be enforced. Drunk driving is also illegal and I would imagine MUNI has a policy against drivers showing up to work drunk, but unless someone is overseeing the drivers and enforcing the policy, it’s meaningless. San Francisco MUNI, as well as any other entity that is responsible for safely transporting passengers, needs to ensure its operators and drivers do not use or even carry cell phones on the job. There is no need for it, even in an emergency. The MUNI driver that caused the recent crash in San Francisco could have communicated over the train’s radio. If the radio didn’t work, I am certain that any one of the many passengers would have had a cell phone to use. The key to prevention of many accidents is avoiding distractions. If a bus driver or train operator does not have a cell phone while driving, there won’t be temptation to use it, it won’t ring, and there will be no added distraction in doing their job.