Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Text Messaging and Train Operating: Not a Good Mix

The article ran as a news brief in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Monday. The article titled, "Dispatcher Tried to Warn Engineer," about the deadly train collision in California last Friday, states the a dispatcher supposedly tried to alert the engineer of the commuter train that there was danger ahead, namely, an oncoming freight train. The call supposedly came too late.

Buried near the bottom of the news brief was this chilling piece of information: "A teenager told CBS2-TV that he had exchanged a brief text message with the engineer shortly before the crash. The Los Angeles station said the teen was among a group of youths who befriended the engineer and asked him questions about his work."

Now there are more reports surfacing about an investigation into whether the engineer for the commuter train was text messaging while on duty.

Let me just say this: Even if you are operating the old-fashioned cars at an amusement park--you know, the ones that run on a track--you should not be text messaging.

Does it take a train wreck that kills 25 people to scare everyone about this?

Many cities and states across the country have banned the use of cell phones while driving. . Only a handful also ban text messaging while driving, including New Jersey. (And if you've seen people drive in New Jersey, you know this is a good thing.) California has a new no-cell-phone law pertaining to drivers that went into effect earlier this year. Currently, there is no ban on text messaging in that state. And all of this refers to car and bus drivers. There is no mention of train drivers.

But doesn't it just seem like common sense that someone in charge of a train carrying hundreds of passengers should not be allowed to chat on a cell phone or send text messages? No doubt, if it turns out it's true that this engineer was texting while on duty, swift action will take place to keep this unfortunate event from happening again.

It seems, though, that some people may still not understand the potential risks of text messaging in certain circumstances. So here is my personal list of people who should not text message:

• Drivers behind the wheel-- this includes car drivers, truck drivers, bus drivers, train drivers, grocery cart drivers and tricycle drivers
• Airline pilots-- commercial or private, it doesn't matter
• Cyclists, joggers and roller bladers-- this should be a no-brainer, but allow me to beat the obvious to death
• Doctors performing surgery-- I don't care if you're only removing a wart from someone's finger; your texting can wait
• Teachers
• Students
• People seated at dining tables with other people-- in other words, how rude

Please feel free to add to the list.

P.S. Photo courtesy of download-free-pictures.com

No comments: