Commuter rail accidents, including a New York derailment last month that killed four people, has prompted a U.S. investigative agency to name improving transit safety as its top priority for 2014. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), releasing its annual list of most-wanted improvements, said mass-transit agencies should take steps to improve safety systems to reduce the human errors that have led to accidents.
I have found that most folks don’t realize that the NTSB, which investigates transportation and pipeline accidents, has no regulatory authority. Instead, the agency uses its annual Most Wanted list to highlight the issue areas most in need of improvement. In that regard, the NTSB wants transit agencies to adopt programs that have proven beneficial in airlines, such as encouraging employees to report safety issues without fear of punishment and gathering data to spot shortfalls before they become catastrophic. The safety board also renewed its call for the installation of positive-train control, a system that automatically stops trains if it senses a looming collision and won’t allow them to travel too fast.
The NTSB also added to its Most Wanted list improvements on passenger ferries and cruise lines, driving while impaired by alcohol and drugs, and helicopter operations. Each year 35,000 people die in transportation accidents, 90 percent of which occur on roads and highways, according to the NTSB.
Source: Insurance Journal
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