AFSEC clarifies use of electronic devices for pedestrians on roadways

by Staff Sgt. Mike Meares
Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii — The Air Force Safety Center released a letter of interpretation this year prohibiting the use of listening and entertainment devices, including single ear pieces and external speakers, when on a roadway.

The use of portable headphones, earphones, cellular phones, digital music players, or other listening and entertainment devices, other than hearing aids, are prohibited while walking, jogging, running, bicycling, skating or skate boarding on roadways for the sake of ensuring good situational awareness resulting in a lower possibility of a mishap, according to officials.

“Safety needs to be involved in everyone’s daily activities to ensure we are meeting mission requirements,” said Tech. Sgt. Scott Yonushonis, of 15th Wing ground safety here. “Without safe and healthy Airmen, we will not be able to complete our mission.

“It is not possible to prevent all mishaps, so that is why we do (operational risk management),” Yonushonis continued. “The Air Force hasn’t had a spike in incidents due to electronic devices, but there have been studies done that show you lose your situational awareness when you are using these types of devices.”

The intent of the requirement is to prevent pedestrian-vehicle mishaps and applies only to roadways. The roadway is defined by the AFSEC as a strip of land dedicated to the conveyance of vehicles, including the shoulder and median when present, as well as parking lots.

The wearing of these devices while on roadways and streets may impair recognition of emergency signals, alarms, announcements and the approach of emergency vehicles. Pedestrians may, however, wear listening devices on athletic
field tracks and beach areas not encompassing sidewalks.

“For some runners, listening to music motivates them and keeps their mind off the distances,” said Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Hutcherson, the 647th Force Support Squadron NCO in charge of the Hickam Fitness Center here. “If they are running roadways, their attention to their surroundings is limited.

AFSEC officials said if runners find removing earphones while crossing roadways multiple times to be inconvenient, they should find a more appropriate place to exercise where this hazard is not present.

“The treadmills and the elliptical machines are good options for those who require music when they run,” Hutcherson said.