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Driver Distraction - on a Larger and Sadder Scale

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Driver distraction exacts a terrible toll out on the road … just ask the families of the more than 3,000 people who die every year in distracted-driver crashes. But put a talker or texter behind the wheel of a mass transit vehicle, and the potential for a massive tragedy skyrockets.
 
Take this past week in Spain, for example.

It looks like that’s exactly what happened in northwestern Spain when a train flew off the rails, killing 79 people. Investigators believe the driver was not only talking on the phone, but looking at a map AND exceeding the speed limit when the train derailed on a tight curve. It seems about the only think he wasn't doing was shaving.
 
Images of the wreck are sobering. (Photo: Xosema, Wikimedia)Concerns about distracted transit drivers have been growing in recent years, as the death toll climbs. In the US, federal safety rules prohibit bus drivers from using phones behind the wheel. State transportation agencies are training their drivers about the dangers of divided attention. The Federal Aviation Administration is considering banning personal devices in cockpits.
 
The FAA has moved to ban iPads and other gadgets in cockpits - though some pilots protest that the devices are a useful navigation and reference tool. (Photo: Kent Wien, flickr)In the case of the Spanish accident, the driver wasn’t on his personal phone – he actually got a call from an official at the national rail company on the phone in the driver’s cabin. Let’s hope the railways everywhere ban this practice in light of this tragedy. Do you want your driver going over his vacation schedule when the Acela's bouncing along through Hartford at 80 MPH? We sure don't.
 
There's a lot more that government and businesses can and should do to prevent distracted driving. What do you think? Is it time for an outright ban on the use of distracting devices for paid professionals whose job it is to safely move us from one town to another-- before this Spanish tragedy is replicated here in the U.S.?

Let us know what you think. 
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