Cell phones are an essential part of everyday life, but they’re a hazard when used behind the wheel. Many commercial vehicle owners have policies against using cell phones while operating their vehicles, but texting while driving continues to be a problem. The TransitHound cell phone detection device helps owners flush out operators who use their phones in commercial vehicles. Let’s look at a real accident the TransitHound could have prevented.
In May 2013, a semi truck driver was checking Facebook on his smartphone when he failed to notice emergency vehicles responding to an earlier accident. He struck several police cars and a fire truck at full speed, killing a police officer. The smartphone using driver had avoided previous detection by using his wallet to block the dashboard camera.
Why is the TransitHound Necessary?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found commercial drivers were 23.2% more likely to be involved in a safety-critical event such as lane deviation, crashes and near-crashes. Texting drivers took their eyes off the road an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 MPH a vehicle would travel 371 feet before the operator even applies the brakes, the approximate length of a football field.
A 2006 study by the University of Utah found drivers using a cell phone were just as impaired as a drunk driver with a .08 blood alcohol level. The study also found drivers using a cell phone were 9% slower to hit the brakes, displayed 24% greater variance in following distance and were 19% slower to resume normal speed after braking.
When the texting driver is operating a public transit vehicle such as a bus or train, passengers can use their own cell phones to record the driver. If the footage is sent to the media, it can cause a public relations firestorm even if no accident is involved. In situations where the driver is alone, the first sign of a problem is often an incident that puts lives and property at risk.
Commercial Driving and Cell Phone Regulations
Federal regulations prohibit operators from using cell phones in commercial vehicles such as buses, trucks and trains. In addition to federal laws, many states have passed their own legislation against cell phone use for both commercial drivers and the general public.
In 2010, the United States Department of Transportation enacted stiff penalties for cell phone use by commercial vehicle drivers. The operator can be fined up to $2,750 and the owner fined up to $11,000 for “reaching, holding, dialing, texting or reading” a phone while driving.
Major railway companies are already using the TransitHound to comply with FRA regulations against cell phone use.
The Federal Railroad Administration prohibits railroad workers from using any electronic device that interferes with safety-related duties. This includes the engineer, crew on the ground and workers getting the train ready for movement.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s 2010 crane standards prohibit crane operators from using cell phones during a lift unless the phone is used for signaling purposes.
Operators can go to great lengths to hide their activities. The major difficulty in enforcing the policy is catching the violator in the act. There hasn’t been an easy way for owners to catch operators using cell phones, until now.
Your Anti-Cell Phone Watchdog
The TransitHound cell phone detector is designed to sniff out commercial drivers who use cell phones behind the wheel. It features a receiver capable of picking up signals from North American and global devices. It is triggered by a sudden increase in RF activity and can detect phone calls, text messages and data transmissions. The TransitHound adapts to the background RF noise level and the sensitivity is adjustable, minimizing the chances of false alarms.
The TransitHound is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, and can be discreetly mounted in a concealed location such as under the seat, under the headliner or in a control box. It can receive power from any DC power source from 12v to 50v, making it ideal for a broad spectrum of vehicles and heavy equipment.
It features a USB port to record data on a storage device and dry contacts to trigger other devices, such as a hidden camera focused on the driver’s seat. The time stamps on the data can be compared to video footage or still camera photos to determine whether disciplinary action is necessary.
Put the TransitHound On Duty in Your Fleet
Don’t risk public safety and your organization’s valuable personnel, equipment and reputation on an operator violating your “NO WIRELESS” policy. The TransitHound is an essential enforcement aide to any commercial vehicle owner’s efforts to eliminate distracted driving on the job.
The TransitHound Guards Against Operator Cell Phone Use In:
• Buses & Vans
• Construction Vehicles
• Earth-Moving Equipment
• Motorized Farming Equipment
• Semi Trucks
Contact Berkeley Varitronics Systems today for more information and a quote for your fleet of vehicles.
Statistical studies quoted in this paper made available upon request.