House Bill 57: Subway and Light Rail Operation Safety Act
Many people in the community are aware that last year, Maryland passed a law to ban text-messaging while driving a car. This was a much needed, common sense law that had near universal support. I don't know too many people who would say that text-messaging while driving a car is a good idea.
But I want to take that idea a step further. I want to ban text-messaging for any train operators. You see, there have been some horrible tragedies recently caused by train operators who should have been paying attention instead of texting. In California 25 people were killed in 2008 and in Boston 49 people were injured in 2009 due to this behavior.
In Maryland, our rail systems (WMATA, Maryland Transit Authority, CSX and Amtrak) already have policies in place that disallow texting while driving a train. However, such policies can easily be changed by the whim of bureaucrats. So I think it's important that we back up these policies with strong laws. We need to make sure we never have such an avoidable tragedy in Maryland.
For this reason I have introduced House Bill 57: Subway and Light Rail Operation Safety Act. This bill would impose a $500 fine on anyone caught texting while operating a train. You can read the actual text of the bill by clicking here.
[UPDATE 2/2/2010]: I had a public hearing for this bill in the House Environmental Matters Committee. You can watch the video of that bill hearing by clicking here.