The federal transportation secretary wants to expand a cellphone ban beyond engineers to the entire crews that run commuter trains. The proposal is one consequence of the fatal Metrolink crash in Chatsworth two years ago.
Less than a month after a Metrolink train plowed into a Union Pacific freight train, the federal Department of Transportation issued emergency orders prohibiting rail operators from using electronic devices on the job. Now the department wants to extend the ban to conductors, switchmen, and other crew members.
National Transportation Safety Board Chair Deborah Hersman says Metrolink engineer Robert Sanchez missed a red light because he was a distracted driver.
"This operator sent and received upwards of 95 text messages that day," Hersman said.
But a ban may not, by itself, be enough. The company that ran Metrolink trains had already prohibited cellphone use, and had reprimanded engineer Sanchez. He and 24 other people died, and 135 passengers and crew were injured in the Chatsworth commuter rail crash.
The Department of Transportation will field public comment on its rule change before it goes into effect.