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Cable Car Collides With Automobile In San Francisco

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DougSovern20100908_KCBS_0208r Doug Sovern
Doug began his career as a copy boy at the New York Times, and then...
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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – A California line cable car collided with a vehicle Thursday morning, resulting in minor injuries and traffic disruptions near San Francisco’s Chinatown neighborhood.

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesman Paul Rose said the cable car was headed downhill on a steep part of California Street around 8:30 a.m., when the driver of the car cut in front of it.

The cable car rear-ended the car, causing moderate damage to both vehicles, and sending the driver of the automobile to the hospital with what appeared to be non life-threatening injuries.

Rose said this type of crash happens all too often, especially when it’s raining, because the cable cars brake by releasing the moving cable below, and dragging wooden blocks on the pavement.

“When you have a heavy historic vehicle like this, and it’s going downhill, and it’s in the rain, it tends to make stopping that much more difficult,” Rose said. “We just ask people to create enough space.”

With the historic cable cars moving up and down many of San Francisco’s steep streets, Rose said it’s important for both drivers and the cable car operators to be aware of their surroundings.

“Our conductors and gripmen are on the lookout for any time that they might have to stop early and pull the emergency brake when they need to. And in this case, they did,” he said. “It’s something that we’re all aware of and we’re trying to make it as safe as possible.”

Rose said since the cable cars are a national landmark, the technology can’t be changed and it’s best to steer clear in the rain, as the vehicles can’t “stop on a dime.”

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