Cell phone use while operating mobile equipment is a form of distracted driving and is extremely dangerous. MSHA and the Association of Equipment Manufacturers have jointly developed the following safety alert as a project within the alliance between the two organizations.
The U.S. Department of Transportation reports that cell phones are involved in 6,000 auto fatalities each year. Operating mobile equipment has inherent risks that can be mitigated by training, supervision, maintaining equipment in proper operating condition, and following established procedures; however, using a cell phone introduces the hazard of distracting the equipment operator and increases the chances of being involved in an accident dramatically.
Consider the following facts about cell phone usage in the automotive industry that can be translated into the operation of off-road equipment:
- The risks of operating mobile equipment while intoxicated are widely known, but using a cell phone can be up to six times worse.
- In a reaction test, a driver who was using a cell phone took over twice as long to react to a red light than when the driver was legally impaired by alcohol.
- Writing or reading a text message takes your eyes off the road for an average of 5 seconds. At 55 MPH, that’s like driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
- Currently, 46 states have laws banning texting while operating a vehicle.