On Friday, September 12, 2008, Los Angeles experienced one of the worst U.S. commuter disasters in recent memory. At least 25 people were killed as a result of the Metrolink train crash in the San Fernando Valley that left well over 130 people injured. Reports indicate the train was traveling approximately 42 miles per hour when it ran head-on into a Union Pacific freight train. It has also been reported that the engineer responsible for driving the Metrolink train may have been sending a text-message on his cell phone immediately before the collision.
I have written about the new cell phone laws in the State of California, as well as specific incidents involving bus drivers and possible cell phone usage. According to the N.T.S.B. (National Transportation Safety Board), the Metrolink train failed to stop at a red signal, which appears to have been working, and should have been visible, and the N.T.S.B. has been working to re-enact the crash to learn as much as possible about what happened. Currently, though drivers are prohibited from using hands free cellular devices while driving, the California Public Utilities Commission does not prohibit the driver of a passenger train from using a cell phone or text-messaging, though they are responsible for hundreds of lives. Aside from driver neglect, it is incomprehensible and reprehensible that Metrolink did not have additional safety measure in place to prevent such a catastrophe. In the coming weeks and months after this catastrophe, we can expect to see new legislation introduced as a direct result of this horrible event.