The Metrolink rail accident in 2008, which resulted in serious injuries and 25 deaths, led U. S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to consider having the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) propose rules and regulations on railroad employees using Personal Electronic Devices (PEDS), while on duty.
There is already a temporary restriction for cell phone use in place. The talk now is to have a permanent restriction in place. Check out my article about the original emergency order restricing cell phone use for railroad workers here.
This is but another issue in the on-going debate of whether or not using PEDs while driving cars, large commercial trucks, and other vehicles should be subject to fines or other forms of punishment.
PEDs can include devices other than cell phones. They can also include portable music players (commonly referred to as "iPods"), personal digital assistants (PDAs-small handheld devices that help a person keep track of appointments or other similar information), and other electronic instruments.
The new restrictions make sense considering rail workers and locomotive engineers have the safety and security of potentially hundreds of lives (i.e. passengers and co-workers) while they are on the job. It should go without saying that operating a train requires 100 percent attentiveness. Any less and a massive train wreck could be the result.