U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday he plans to introduce legislation this week to make it a federal crime to send text messages while operating trains or buses.
“When a commuter steps onto a train or bus, he or she should not have to worry about getting into an accident because the person responsible for their safety is busy texting their friend,” Schumer said.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority already forbids texting on buses and subways, but Schumer said his proposal would go further.
“Our rules will be tougher and stronger,” Schumer said. “The MTA has a ban, but our rule would have higher fines and penalties, and at present there are no rules for drivers of school buses or commuter buses that are run by private companies.”
“We think this law should apply for all operators of mass transit, public or private,” Schumer said.
Schumer said his proposed legislation was inspired in part by a collision of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority trains at Chatsworth in suburban Los Angeles last September, killing 25 people, as well as an accident involving fatalities in Washington, D.C.
Investigators were attempting to determine whether either operators were texting when the accidents occurred.
Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at timesledge
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