Technical Reports

Safety of Railroad Employees’ Use of Personal Electronic Devices

  • 24
  • Jun
  • 2014
AUTHOR: Catherine Guthy, Hadar Rosenhand, Alison Bisch, and Eric Nadler
SUBJECT: Cellular Telephones/Other Electronic Devices, Human Factors, Railroad Employees
KEYWORDS: safety, personal electronic devices, distraction, electronic device distraction, cell phones, secondary task, railroad employees, safety-critical railroad employees
ABSTRACT: This report describes two studies sponsored by the Federal Railroad Administration that examined distraction from personal electronic device (PED) usage among safety-critical railroad employees. Study I considered railroad rules, railroad efficiency testing results and accident databases, as well as first-hand accounts of PED usage and the safety issues that can result from the distraction that they can cause. The Study I participants were non-operating employees, specifically maintenance of way employees and signalmen. Study II expanded upon Study I to gather a wider “snapshot” of PED usage among operating and non-operating safety critical employees, specifically locomotive engineers, conductors, car inspectors, and dispatchers. In both studies, the researchers listened to input from employees about both PEDs and company-issued electronic communication devices. The findings provide a qualitative baseline for education and outreach programs that are intended to reduce distraction related to PED use in the workplace and address the extension of existing FRA regulations that prohibit or restrict their use to non-operating employees.