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California Public Utilities Commission Bans Cell Phone Use by Train Operators

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The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on Thursday passed an emergency order banning all train operators from using cell phones and other personal electronic devices while on duty. According to a Sept. 18 Associated Press news report, the decision to ban came less than a week after the Chatsworth Metrolink train crash, which killed 26 people and injured at least 135.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) who looked into Metrolink engineer Robert Sanchez’s cell phone records said they did discover that he was texting on duty on the day of the catastrophic accident. Another Associated Press report states that NTSB officials are still trying to pin down the exact times when Sanchez was texting.

But they have said that a few teenage train enthusiasts received a text message from Sanchez minutes before the accident occurred. Sanchez reportedly ran the train through a red light, crashing head-on into a Union Pacific freight train. Thursday’s order from the PUC will temporarily ban the use of cell phones by all California railroad employees while on the job. The Commission will determine at a later date whether to make this ban permanent.

I think this ban should not only be made permanent for railroad employees, but extended to our roadways as well. We don’t need to wait for more tragedies to acknowledge the fact that texting or using a cell phone and simultaneously operating a vehicle don’t mix!

Train operators are responsible for the lives of hundreds of commuters. Last week, the Metrolink engineer — if in fact he was texting at the time of the crash – did not take that responsibility too seriously. In the coming weeks, we will see claims and lawsuits pile up in a hurry against Metrolink, which in my opinion, should be held responsible for the accident, injuries and fatalities caused by this horrific crash.

If you or someone you know has been seriously injured or killed in the Chatsworth Metrolink train accident, please call my office to obtain information about your legal rights and options. We will provide you with all the information and support you need and schedule a free consultation if you should decide to pursue your rights.

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