Another story from last week: on Friday, September 12 in Chatsworth, CA, just west of Los Angeles, a commuter train ran head-on into a freight train. At least 25 were killed.
What does this tragedy have to do with trucking? The evidence is pointing towards an error by the engineer of the commuter train. It appears that he missed a red signal, which told him to stop short, and wait for the freight train to take a siding, and then pass it. It also shows that he was sending and receiving text messages on his cellphone while driving the train, around the time of the accident. The evidence hasn’t proven that the text messages were what made him miss the red signal, but right now, that seems like the most likely explanation.
Let me tell you where this could be going. If it’s shown that the cellphone probably caused this accident, the DOT might just ban cellphones from use while driving CMVs, as well as trains. It has happened before, where a train crash caused major new regulations across all modes of transportation. 21 years ago, a set of Conrail engines ran onto the mainline north of Baltimore, where they were hit by an Amtrak train going 130 mph. The two idiots in the Conrail train were smoking weed at the time. This accident was the impetus behind DOT drug and alcohol testing regulations.
At any rate, this sort of thing could certainly happen at any time in a truck. Those cellphones, while sometimes necessary, are also a big distraction. Do your best not to use them while driving, and if you must, a hands-free device should be used.