Before Thanksgiving, our Federal Railroad Administration launched a collaborative effort to remind rail industry employees about the dangers of using electronic devices on the job--whether they're working in a rail yard or in the cab of a large locomotive. FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo encouraged rail carriers to adopt peer-to-peer programs to combat electronic distractions and challenged all railroad employees to make the improper use of such devices while on the job socially unacceptable.
Device distraction endangers coworkers, railroad passengers, and those who live and work along rail lines. The risks are serious, and the consequences of a workplace accident can be tragic.
And while railroad employees who improperly use electronic devices on the job violate both federal regulations and railroad operating rules, Administrator Szabo, rail unions, and rail carriers understand that we can take more proactive steps to protect safety.
With peer-to-peer programs like the one already established by Union Pacific, rail employees will cultivate a culture of safety that keeps everyone alert and safe.
As Administrator Szabo, whose family has been in the railroad industry for five generations, said, "I know firsthand how distractions can lead to danger. That's why I'm calling on all rail industry employees to adopt a zero tolerance position on using electronic devices while working, building a safety culture where workers can confidently depend on one another."
Strengthening how the rail industry works is part of strengthening how our economy works. But transportation only works when it's safe.
That's why we need the industry to take decisive action against a practice already proven to have tragic consequences. With government, labor, and industry working together to create peer-to-peer programs--and whatever else it takes to eliminate improper use of electronic devices on the job--we can surely improve safety.
The message is the same for the rail industry as it is for all of us: One text or call could wreck it all.