Following a number of rail accidents resulting from the use of electronic devices in the cab or along the tracks, the United States Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has issued a new rule which bans the employee use of personal electronic devices on locomotives.

The FRA rule amends its railroad communications regulations by restricting use of mobile telephones and other distracting electronic devices by railroad operating employees.

As the FRA release states:

The increasing number of distractions for drivers has led to increasing safety risks. The distractions caused by cell phones (mobile phones/cellular phones) have been a concern for years. In addition, each day, drivers are distracted by eating, conversations with passengers, using portable electronic devices, or some other type of multitasking. This type of behavior results in vehicle accidents and significant costs to our nation’s economy. Parallels are easily drawn between distracted driving and the operation of trains while using distracting electronic devices…

The use of cell phones and other electronic devices has become ubiquitous in American society. There is strong evidence that people permit electronic devices to distract them from driving all kinds of vehicles and that such distractions can have serious safety consequences.

The FRA document cites examples of ‘Distraction’ incidents involving different modes of transport, including a famous example of two airline pilots who overshot their destination because they were viewing crew schedules on a laptop.

The official FRA document can be seen here:

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