You can't get away from texting, even when you visit the fair. It’s usually not a problem unless you're the person running the ride. FOX 5 visited county and state fairs across the area this summer to show you what's going on when they think no one's looking.
At the Maryland State Fair, it didn't take long before FOX 5 caught one person texting - and not paying any attention - to the kids going through a funhouse.
One employee was so busy watching his phone, he didn't realize we were watching him as we rode past him on the ferris wheel.
In all, we caught eight different ride operators texting in less than two hours.
We showed our pictures to Don Deggeller, the owner of Deggeller Attractions, which runs all of the rides at the Maryland State Fair. He says he's always had a strict cell phone policy.
"They are not allowed to use cell phones while operating equipment, whether it is a game, food or a ride,’ said Degeller. ’It doesn't make any difference and not only do we have a policy, we remind them of that policy every week before we open. Apparently they didn't get the message."
Deggeller says as soon as he saw the pictures, he confiscated the phones and is considering reprimanding or firing the employees - including the operator of "The Vertigo" - who spent more than 45 minutes continuously texting while he unloaded riders, stood at the controls, even taking a ride, rarely ever looking up from his phone.
’I didn't think they realize how important this was to pay attention to this equipment because that equipment weighs 80,000 to 90,000 pounds. And if they have an accident, it’s like running your car into a brick wall,’ Deggeller said.
FOX 5 saw first hand how accidents can happen in an instant. Our cameras were rolling at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair when a swing slammed into a ride operator after something went wrong on a different version of ’The Vertigo.’
We were there once again watching operators watch their phones instead of their riders. This fair is run by a different company called Powers Great American Midways. They gave FOX 5 a copy of its "Employee Rules and Regulations" which states - in big, bold letters - electronic devices like cell phones "are never allowed while you are working."
A spokesman for Powers Great American Midways says as soon as they saw our pictures, "We went through the fair with a bucket and collected everyone's cell phone."
The company says it immediately changed its policy and from now on, employees must turn in their phones before they even step foot onto the midway.