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back to article Tram driver crashes while texting

Dozens of people were hurt when one Boston tram collided with another, after which the driver admitted to police that he'd failed to see the stationary tram because he was texting his girlfriend. Travelling at around 25 miles per hour, the Green Line tram simply failed to brake, or stop, despite the fact that the tram in front …

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Anonymous Coward

'failed to break'

Sounds like he did 'break' it even though he forgot to 'brake'.

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Happy

Yes but what model was it?

I think we should be told.

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Joke

Think his girlfriend will mind...

...that while he was texting her, he was also banging a colleague from behind?

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Stop

Nice trams but a bit rickety

I like those Green Line trams - its like being at Blackpool but underground :)

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Anonymous Coward

We Demand

a playmobile re-enactment!

(or it didnt happen)

PS: REG, howsabout a playmobile logo?

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Alert

Is this in the right section??

Surely this should be under RotM - The phone succeeded in distracting the driver while the tram was going at high speed. The tram in front stalled, staying staionary for far longer than necessary (a whole minute!!) while the red light may have collaborated by dimming down or even blowing a bulb.

It's not a paranoid conspiracy if they really are out to get you...

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Coat

Don't you mean...

...that *tram* flies by while texting?

Mine's the one with the NYC Metrocard in the pocket.

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AC
Unhappy

a smiley face is a fair title!

sacking is the worst he will face?

just wow.

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Paris Hilton

Failed to turn up

So he failed to turm up to a hearing on the Sunday. Looking at the passengers who weren't at the front of the tram (train/trolley/whatever) I'm surprised he made it at all!!

But, this IS the US, so he'll get a massive payout from whatever mobile (cell) company he uses, as well as the manufacturer of his phone for not letting him text quick enough AND all the tram manufacturers having to re-write their operating manuals to include the bit about NOT texting when your driving.

Paris, 'cos she's been shunted in the rear, I'll bet!!

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Anonymous Coward

Collision avoidance?

It's the 21st century. These things don't have a proper collision avoidance system because... (looks sternly at the unions).

Granted the driver wasn't doing his job, but perhaps the system needs to be upgraded such that the driver is the failsafe, not the primary control mechanism.

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Running a red light...

...without having the tram force-stopped by safety systems? What century are these americans in again?

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Punishment

The driver will face possible criminal prosecution (which was why he was "sick" --consulting a lawyer-- for the initial review) as well although I do not know how serious the charges and punishment will be.

My wife rides that very train around that very time every weekday. Last Friday we had to attend a funeral.

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Go

DLR, DLR, DLR...

Why aren't trains, tubes and trams all like the Docklands Light Railway? I can't help but think there would be so fewer strikes if this happened. Let alone collisions. In fact I think there's only been one collision which was only due to one of the trains being put under manual control.

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Alert

Tram?

& it was underground? Wasn't Street running, so QED it wasn't a Tram.

Also why do US Fire crew still wear Victorian safety head gear & not the full head safety gear they use in Blighy?

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Stop

MORE PLAYMOBILE

That is all

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Paris Hilton

@Andy Barber

So when it emerges to street level it transmogrifies into a tram? IIRC Manchester's tram system runs underground in places...

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Silver badge

And what Google Ad gets overlaid on the vid?

"I'm glad I lost my job!"

Hahahahahaha!

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@ AC that hates unions

If they dont have that system its cause the city is to cheap to upgrade. Nothing to do with the unions

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Thumb Down

These things don't have TPWS?

All trains and trams have a TPWS system in this country as far as I'm aware. TPWS or train/tram protection and warning system alerts the driver to the fact that the next signal aspect will be danger (red) thus reducing SPADs (signal passed at danger) in the first place and if a SPAD should occur the TPWS will then automatically apply the train's emergency brake. A similar system would have stopped this from happening, driver goes through the signal, brakes stop the train, no one hurt and a few angry questions asked.

Anon becuase I sound like a right spotter.

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Flame

@Andy Barber

"Also why do US Fire crew still wear Victorian safety head gear & not the full head safety gear they use in Blighy?"

Because they take what they consider to be acceptable risks rather than having the namby pamby, nanny state issued, elf and safely approved and very expensive headgear that we have.

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Automation, not that good really..

To Collision avoidance? & Running a red light & These things don't have TPWS? - Because a human DOING HIS JOB is more effective and cheaper (think about your ticket costs) then an automated system that if fails, fails no better. Plus it gives 'someone' a job, obviously they are paying him too much to have a phone capable of texting. Your actually better off with two people and no automation.

13 Seconds of texting! FFS 13 Seconds. Was he trying to use predictive text? Could he have not asked a passenger?

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Flame

Where are the RMT?

If this was in blighty that fat wanker Bob Crow would have the tube on strike for a week for the terrible treatment of one of his dahling boys.

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Joke

Driver Update

I think they need to go to the Tram website,

download the latest tram driver, then do a clean reinstall

Thats what i do when my drivers crash ;)

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Joke

Kingston Trio

So did Charlie finally get off the train?

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Gold badge
Coat

"No evidence of cell phone use."

Provided he wipes his outgoing calls and text list before he hands it over of course.

This stuff is mildly amusing. Until someone ends up in a body bag. Underground collisions in tunnel are no joke.

Yes it can be a dull job, and yet it requires concentration to react promptly to unexpected.

Maybe it would have been better if he did have that last pipe of crack before coming on shift instead...

Mine will be the one with a Charlie Card in the pocket.

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Stop

@Peter Nuding

"What century are these americans in again?"

Boston's Green Line is the oldest line in the oldest subway system in the US - so that would be the 19th century (parts of it at least).

Riding it is an experience you won't soon forget -- the sounds, the smells, the sights...

Usually, the train stops without the assistance of the one in front of it...

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Go

TPWS on Trams

I don't know what the situation is in this case, but many trams in this country and others don't have proper signalling but instead are driven on sight. Trams (like cars, but unlike trains) generally have good enough brakes, to stop in the distance the driver can see. The driver has to keep paying attention in case some muppet walks or drives out in front of them

Signals are often used in much the same way as traffic lights, which prevent conflicting moves across a junction.

P.S. (I think the Reg needs to invest in one of these http://www.youngworld.co.uk/acatalog/P4011.jpg before friday)

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Bah!

Effing cell phones. These damned things should require a licence, and the approval process should involve demonstrating that the prospective user has a higher IQ than the handheld communication device.

I've been damn near run down three times in the last year by morons who didn't understand that the "no driving while using a phone" law was enacted specifically with them in mind. About six months ago I was passed by a woman in a car who, although using a hands-free celphone, was illustrating the emotional content of her side of the conversation by waving *both* hands in the air. This right outside a school.

The human race isn't ready for this technology.

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@Chris

You really, really have no clue, do you?

Seriously. Go do some research into the history of transportation and the evolution of signalling systems. Here's a clue: cutting the power to the electrified track section behind a vehicle is something the London Underground was doing in the *1800s*. (You can still see the mechanical trip-cocks on the sub-surface lines at stations: they're the little pedals which rise up and down near the signals. These won't be around much longer though.)

The fact that this incident involved a tram is utterly irrelevant: the SPAD was the first, easily preventable, error here -- the crash was a consequence, not the cause. The technology to stop trains automatically after a SPAD event is decades-old, tried and tested. There is no excuse for still running passenger services without any such technology and I would refuse to travel on any system which didn't have it fitted.

As an aside: Infrastructure construction, renewal and maintenance costs are usually *higher* when you use human drivers: Computers don't need colour lights on steel poles, and floodlit speed limit signs all along the route. Nor do you need to worry about the logistical nightmare of ensuring all your computer drivers get their scheduled breaks.

In this case, however, there's a valid reason for not using something like the DLR's "SELTRAC" automation: there's currently no equivalent system for street-running trams. (Yet.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Andy Barber (Metrolink)

>> So when it emerges to street level it transmogrifies into a tram? IIRC Manchester's tram system runs underground in places...

I suppose the Heaton Park tunnel could be considered an underground section, and the section at Piccadilly is under the station. Still, I would have thought the fact that it runs mostly on traditional train rails, would be more of a reason not to call it a tram. Ofcourse, technically it isn't a tram it's an LRT. While where at it, let's not forget that much of London Underground is actually above ground, so really there isn't much in a name.

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@Andy Barber

"Also why do US Fire crew still wear Victorian safety head gear & not the full head safety gear they use in Blighy?"

Because they want to be recognised on TV.

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No...It's Just Boston

It is just the way they run things here. As long as things are manually operated they can give more no-work-required jobs to their kids and other relations.

When I moved here from New York I was floored when I saw the driver of one of these trams stop it, get out, grab a pry bar, throw the track switch with the pry bar, hang it up and get back in and resume driving. They cannot manage automated switching, so please don't expect them to figure out anything as advanced as safety systems.

The transit system here isn't designed to move people efficiently, just to drain taxes/fees to support the connected dim bulbs in the area.

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automation

Time to automate the system and have the human as backup, not the primary. These days, I'd trust a properly done computer control system over a typical human driver any day.

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Coat

OH MY GOD!

......

A human? as a backup? Are you serious?! If we can't concentrate to drive the bloody things as primary what good is it going to be having a human as a backup? I thinks omeones far more likely to be texting on their phone while they are sat there doing nothing waiting for a system to croak..

Seeeessssshhhhhhhh

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Anonymous Coward

Trams and automation

Because trams have to interact with cars, pedestrians, lorries, bicycles, etc, perhaps automating the interaction with other trams just isn't worth it. It would be like driving a Honda with a special high-tech anti-collision system that prevents it from colliding with other Hondas, of the same type ...

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@ AC ref DLR

It's not just the DLR, some portions of the Underground are also setup for driver-less operation, with the driver just sat in the cab to hit the big red button if it all goes wrong.

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re:@Chris

"There is no excuse for still running passenger services without any such technology and I would refuse to travel on any system which didn't have it fitted."

So you don't get in one of those nasty motor cars which can drive towards each other at a closing speed of 120mph (if neither is speeding) with only a painted white line to seperate them ? At least the tram driver doesn't have to steer. Mind you, as others have said, he still has to interact with road traffic so the automation process can't solve everything.

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Thumb Up

Time flies by..

Am I the only reader old enough to spot the Chigley reference? Tea please, Lord Belborough.

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@Phil Parker

"So you don't get in one of those nasty motor cars which can drive towards each other at a closing speed of 120mph (if neither is speeding) with only a painted white line to seperate them ?"

Not if there's a viable alternative, no. I used to live near an accident black spot in south London; any attraction cars may have had as a kid evaporated after I saw my first corpse. I was about 12 at the time.

I only learned to drive four years ago. (I'm 38.) I drove to Rome and back a few times without any trouble. My Skoda Octavia went back to the finance company last year and I don't miss it.

Mind you, south London has appalling transport infrastructure no matter what mode you use. Just getting up to 20mph is a feat.

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@Sean Baggaley

"Seriously. Go do some research into the history of transportation and the evolution of signalling systems. Here's a clue: cutting the power to the electrified track section behind a vehicle is something the London Underground was doing in the *1800s*. (You can still see the mechanical trip-cocks on the sub-surface lines at stations: they're the little pedals which rise up and down near the signals. These won't be around much longer though.)"

Not sure why you're mentioning trip-cocks in the same breath as cutting traction current, when one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Given the size of the present traction current sections on LU and their vague correspondence to the location of each signalling block section, it'd be impossible to protect each train by shutting down the power behind them without significantly reducing the number of trains you could operate at any one time.

Hence the use of trainstops (which are the things you see next to the tracks - trip-cocks are the corresponding devices mounted on the trains) which cause the brakes to be automatically applied if a train passes the trainstop whilst raised. Note the significant safety benefit here over the "cutting the traction current" idea - it'll work regardless of what power source the train uses, which is quite handy given that not every train running on LU tracks takes its power from the 3rd/4th rails...

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