By Ian Simpson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A trash truck driver talking on a hands-free mobile device caused a 2013 Maryland train collision that led to a 15-car derailment and explosion, U.S. investigators said on Wednesday.
The crash at Rosedale, Maryland, involving a CSX Corp train spurred National Transportation Safety Board officials to call for new laws preventing the use of hands-free phone devices by commercial drivers.
"Our investigations have found over and over that distraction in any form can be dangerous behind the wheel," acting Chairman Christopher Hart said in a statement.
The crash took place when a driver for Baltimore's Alban Waste was talking on a hands-free mobile device on May 28, 2013, as he drove a truck loaded with debris across an ungated railway crossing.
A 45-car CSX train struck the truck after sounding its horn three times. Fifteen cars derailed, including three containing hazardous materials, and a post-crash fire and explosion shattered windows and caused damage in a half-mile (800-meter) radius, the NTSB report said.
The truck driver was seriously hurt. Four other people, including a police officer, suffered minor injuries.
The report said overgrown vegetation at the crossing and the curve of the roadway also contributed to the crash. A CSX train struck a truck at the same crossing in August, and the railroad has moved to clear vegetation and add traffic control signs.
The NTSB report said Alban Waste had a "consistent and serious pattern of noncompliance" with federal rules. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had failed to ensure that Alban Waste met regulations or to keep it from operating, it said.
Attempts to reach Alban Waste were unsuccessful.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Sandra Maler)