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What is the law about railroad crews using mobile devices?

Everyone is aware of the laws regarding using mobile devices when driving a vehicle on California roadways. However, are there any rules for workers on trains? These are also vehicles, but traditional road laws do not apply because they are not traveling on roadways. According to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the Federal Railroad Administration has set guidelines for mobile use for railroad workers operating a train.

The FRA's ruling placed restrictions on the use of mobile devices. If you are working on the railroad and the task you are assigned is safety sensitive, such as driving the train or handling anything involving the operation, then you cannot use your mobile device while on the job.

The reason for the ban is similar to why mobile device use is banned for drivers on the roads. The use of a device diverts the attention of the user. If you are in a role where your attention is important to keeping everyone on and around the train safe, you cannot afford to be distracted.

There have been documented issues with mobile use by railroad workers, which is why the FRA made the ruling. It is thought mobile use played a role in a train collision in 2008. This accident resulted in 25 fatalities and multiple injuries of those on a passenger and freight train. At that time the FRA made an emergency order, but later in 2011, it passed the law that is in effect now. This information is for education and is not legal advice.

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