A recent picture posted on the popular social networking site Twitter showed a MARTA driver using his cell phone to send a text message while the train he was supposed to be attending was in motion.
Concerned about safety on the train, Matthew Jones, a regular MARTA commuter, snapped the photo on his cell phone. According to Johnson, he thought he saw the driver texting as he entered the train and so he decided to sit in a spot on the train where he could view the driver. Jones told the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he had noticed a MARTA operator reading a book a few months earlier and wished that he had said something at the time.
“When I saw him pick up his phone again, I picked up my camera and waited for him to turn away, because he was definitely looking to see who was looking,” Jones told the AJC.
Andrea Coleman, spokesperson for MARTA, said the operator would be placed on administrative leave with pay until an investigation could be carried out, and MARTA later released a statement that “The safety and security of our patrons is MARTA’s first and foremost concern. Texting while operating a MARTA vehicle is against company policy… appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken upon the conclusion of the investigation.”
But with the photo evidence, is an investigation enough? This discovery comes on the heels of two mass transit accidents involving drivers distracted by texting. A Los Angeles Metrolink operator was texting last year and became so distracted that he allowed the train he was operating to run through a stop signal and crash into another train. The accident resulted in 25 deaths, including the driver himself, and injuries to 138 people.
Another incident, in Boston, was blamed on driving while texting. Forty nine people were injured in a trolley accident when one driver, who was sending a text message to his girlfriend, rear-ended a second trolley. As a result, both trolleys were derailed and passengers were tossed about the trolley’s carriages. None of the injuries were considered life threatening.
The MLN Law Blog recently explored driving while texting when it comes to teenagers. But it’s clear that adults are guilty of this behavior, too. Encourage your friends and loved ones to practice safe behavior when driving and refrain from driving while texting.
The “MARTA Operator Driving While Texting” story was just one example of the many news stories that are broken on Twitter every day. If you don’t follow MLN Law on Twitter, check us out at www.twitter.com/mlnlaw.
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MARTA to probe texting report MARTA probes photo of train operator texting, Atlanta Journal Constitution