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By Meghna Chakrabarti (The Third Rail)
As of next Monday, Massachusetts Transit Bay Authority train and bus drivers will be banned from carrying cellphones or other electronic devices of any kind while operating T vehicles.
Drivers found using cellphones face an automatic 30-day suspension and recommendation for discharge. Drivers found with a cellphone in their possession face a 10-day suspension.
The new policy announced Wednesday follows last week’s Green Line collision near Government Center that injured almost 50 people. Officials say one of the T drivers admitted to texting his girlfriend at the time of the crash.
The new cellphone ban is the strongest of any major transit authority in the nation. The state already banned its transit operators from using cell phones.
Transportation Secretary James Aloisi said the policy is designed to avoid a repeat of “the error of judgment” that led to Friday’s accident.
The ban will be enforced through management oversight, according to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo. Riders can also report operator cell phone use to the MBTA Customer Serice Center or the "See Something, Say Something" customer hotline number.
Meanwhile, the driver involved in Friday's collision is refusing to speak to federal investigators about the accident.
Peter Knudson, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, says officials had a signed subpoena to serve 24-year-old Aiden Quinn, but his lawyer has advised him not to speak.
“However, Mr. Quinn did speak with others shortly after the accident and indicate that he had been texting shortly after the accident, so that’s going to be [something], obviously, that we’re going to consider in our report,” Knudson said.
The NTSB has already submitted a request to access Quinn’s phone records. Quinn’s lawyer did not return calls for comment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This program aired on May 13, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.
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