Airport Ground Support
Equipment Resources

Toolbox Talk – Distracted Driving

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distracteddrivingDistracted driving is a serious hazard for drivers on public roads. Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a person engages in that has the potential to distract him or her from the primary task of driving and increase the risk of crashing. There are three main types of distraction:

  • Visual — taking your eyes off the road
  • Manual — taking your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive — taking your mind off what you’re doing

While all distractions can endanger drivers’ safety, texting is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distraction.

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), distracted driving crashes killed more than 5,400 people and injured nearly 500,000 in 2009. Multiple states have passed laws banning text messaging while driving. Several states have also banned talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving.

Distracted driving is also a serious hazard for airline employees driving on the ramp and airport roadways. It is critical that everyone take responsibility and pay close attention to the safe operation of the vehicle and the road ahead. The most common distractions, even on the ramp and airport roadways, are texting/talking on cell phones and listening to headphone. Having headphones or even hands-free devices in your ear while driving on the ramp can be hazardous, because you will still be distracted and won’t hear the important background noise around you. Other ways to be distracted are driving while eating, grooming, or in deep thought. Stay alert by getting six to eight hours of sleep per night.

There are several things that you can do to ensure your eyes, minds, and hands are engaged when driving.

Limit distractions:
Never take personal electronic devices (PED) such as iPods, Mp3 players, headphones, Bluetooth devices or cell phones with you onto the ramp or roadways. Keep your electronic devices in your locker or with your personal items indoors. If you must have them with you, keep them on silent and in a storage compartment. Follow company policy when using company issued portable electronic devices.

Before entering the vehicle, ensure there is no luggage or debris on the floorboards or in other areas where they are not intended so you aren’t distracted by something falling or sliding while you drive.

Drive defensively:
As important as it is to make sure you eliminate all distractions while you are driving, it is also important to be aware of other drivers who may be distracted, whether you’re driving or are a pedestrian. Being aware of those around you can help you drive defensively and protect yourself. Follow company and local airport safe driving policies. Report unsafe driving in the workplace to your supervisor. Keeping both hands on the wheel and maintaining good posture can help you to be more alert as you drive.

Make a commitment:

Making a commitment to yourself, your company, and your family not to drive distracted can help keep you accountable for your actions. For example, create and sign a pledge among your peers to help hold each other accountable. You can even sign a pledge with your family, especially with new teenage drivers. Signing your name and making a commitment not to text, talk, or engage in other distracting activities while driving may have you think twice before you do it again.

For more information on distracted driving, please see the following resources:

Discuss the most effective way to apply tips above to your specific workplace/operation.

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Additional Resources

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

  • 14 CFR 139, Certification and Operations: Land Airports Servicing Certain Air Carriers. This is part of the electronic code of federal regulations. Specific areas of interest for the airline industry may include:
    • 139.101, Certification requirements: General
    • 139.203, Contents of airport certification manual
    • 139.205, Amendment of contents of airport certification manual
    • 139.329, Ground vehicles

Part 139 Certification. Requires the FAA to issue airport operating certificates to airports that serve scheduled and unscheduled air carrier aircraft with more than 30 seats or that the FAA Administrator requires to have a certificate.

Through the OSHA and Airline Group Safety Panel Alliance, the Airline Ground Safety Panel developed this Fact Sheet for informational purposes only. It does not necessarily reflect the official views of OSHA or the U.S. Department of Labor. 12/2011