Tuesday, May 18, 2010

DOT proposes regulations to prevent railroad crew distractions

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U.S TransportationSecretary Ray LaHood announced proposed new rules May 17 that he said wouldprohibit the use of cell phones or other   electronic device by railroad operating employees  "if it interferes with thatemployee's or another employee's performance of safety-related duties."

He said the notice ofproposed rulemaking (NPRM) provides "certain exceptions for watches,calculator use, medical devices, railroad radios, cameras used to document bonafide safety hazards or violations of rail safety laws and various emergencysituations."

"There should be noconfusion about when and where cell phones, video games or PDAs may be used bytrain crews," said Federal Railroad Deputy Administrator Karen Rae.

She said FRA is proposingto codify a modified version of its 2008 Emergency Order No. 26 (EFRA O 26),which set forth stringent restrictions on the use of electronic devices byrailroad operating employees after Sept. 12, 2008 collision between a Metrolinkcommuter train and a Union Pacific freight train in Chatsworth, Calif., killed25 people.

Preliminary investigativefindings revealed that the engineer operating the Metrolink train was textmessaging at the time of the collision.