One car from each Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority train derailed upright as a result of the collision.

Texting Caused 2009 Subway Crash: NTSB

According to NTSB investigators, the conductor failed to observe both the yellow and red signals alerting him of the situation on the tracks "because he was engaged in the prohibited use of a wireless device, specifically text messaging, that distracted him from his duties."

The National Transportation Safety Board released a report April 28 detailing its investigation of a May 8, 2009, Boston subway crash that caused 68 injuries and roughly $9.6 million in damages. The board concluded it was caused by a train conductor texting his girlfriend from his cellphone while operating one of the trains.

The incident involved two Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Green Line trains -- locally referred to as trolleys. It forced the closure of the Government Center station and sent scores of people to hospitals after the train with the texting operator struck the train in front of it, which was stopped on the track, waiting to enter the Park Street Station.

According to NTSB investigators, the texting operator failed to observe both the yellow and red signals alerting him of the situation on the tracks "because he was engaged in the prohibited use of a wireless device, specifically text messaging, that distracted him from his duties. Contributing to the accident was the lack of a positive train control system that would have intervened to stop the train and prevent the collision."

Investigators said the striking train was traveling around 25 mph, the maximum allowed track speed. A sight-distance test revealed that if the operator had not been distracted, the rear red marker lights of the stopped train would have been visible for 216 feet, and the entire rear end of that train would have been visible for 80 feet.

According to the report, MBTA transit police interviewed the pilot operator of the striking train at the hospital after the accident. The operator, who was 24 years old and had been on the job for 22 months, initially said he was sending a text to his girlfriend while turning the train on the loop at Government Center station. Later, he explained he had called his girlfriend while turning the train, but he got no answer and left a voice message. He then started a text message to his girlfriend —- to ask her to call him —- as he was leaving the Government Center station. Transit police reviewed the text messages on the conductor's phone and found a draft outbound message asking a person to contact the operator, who suffered a broken wrist in the crash.

The collision caused both trains to derail and sustain significant damage at the point of impact. Officials described a chaotic scene, with metal strewn about, passengers in disarray, and some people who had to be removed from beneath twisted metal by using saws and excavation equipment. Both trains, which were headed westbound, consisted of two cars.

EMS officials counted 49 people taken to hospitals around the city, and 75 others walked off on their own, according to Steve MacDonald, a spokesman for the Boston Fire Department. Passengers praised the fast response from emergency workers, including 120 firefighters.

The Green Line dates to the 19th Century and is the oldest line of MBTA, which is the country's oldest subway system. It has been under scrutiny for years because of numerous crashes and derailments.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Track Key Safety Performance Indicators

    IndustrySafe’s Dashboard Module allows organizations to easily track safety KPIs and metrics. Gain increased visibility into your business’ operations and safety data.

  • Analyze Incident Data

    Collect relevant incident data, analyze trends, and generate accurate regulatory reports, including OSHA 300, 300A, and 301 logs, through IndustrySafe’s extensive incident reporting and investigation module.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common training questions.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Industry Safe
comments powered by Disqus

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - March 2019

    March 2019


      Not Your Grandpa's Ear Muffs 
      Far Too Many Fatal Falls
      Marijuana in the Workplace
      Ladder Safety Tips
    View This Issue