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With Norfolk’s new light rail, The Tide, set to open on August 19, 2011, Hampton Roads Transit drivers are gearing up to operate the trains safely. "Being in control of a piece of machinery like this, your level of concentration is high at all times because you’re operating something that can be deadly," Jonathan Greene, 26, an HRT employee recently told the Virginian-Pilot. Greene, along with 24 other train operators, was selected from a pool of local bus drivers. But the training has been much different.

Tide train operators had to score high on reading comprehension and physical agility tests, have nearly perfect driving and attendance records and complete seven weeks of classroom instruction before getting into a train cab. In terms of training, it really seems like HRT has done all it can to put the best of the best at the helm of their near trains.

Tide trains lack steering wheels and brake pedals, so it’s easy to see why operators need so much training. Ensuring that the trains go the proper speeds and enter and leave stations safely and on schedule requires full attention from operators.

With safety as a top priority, light-rail operators have a number of helpful tools to assist them. For instance, a dead man’s switch operators much hold down at all times when a train is in motion ensures the train stops automatically if an operator has a health emergency and cannot control the vehicle.

As a personal injury attorney, I’ve seen the kinds of accidents than can happen when drivers are distracted or sleepy. It’s good to know HRT is taking the necessary steps to prevent such accidents.


About the Editors: The Shapiro, Cooper, Lewis & Appleton personal injury law firm, which has offices in Virginia (VA) and North Carolina (NC), edits the injury law blogs Virginia Beach Injuryboard, Norfolk Injuryboard and Northeast North Carolina Injuryboard as pro bono services.

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