Friday, September 01, 2017

NTSB wants cameras on all rail transit vehicles

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NTSB says in cab audio or visual recordings would have aided in its investigation in a Feb. 21, 2017, SEPTA rear-end collision in Upper Darby, Penn. NTSB says in cab audio or visual recordings would have aided in its investigation in a Feb. 21, 2017, SEPTA rear-end collision in Upper Darby, Penn. Upper Darby Police Department

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants all rail transit vehicles to have cameras installed to help in crash investigations.

The call for the crash-resistant inward- and outward-facing cameras in rail vehicles was included in three NTSB-issued safety recommendations on Aug. 31.

The recommendations, issued to the Federal Transit Administration and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) call for recorders with a minimum of 12-hour continuous-recording capability that can verify crew actions and train operating conditions. The NTSB says the recorders must be easily accessible to review, with appropriate limitations on public release, for accident investigation and as a tool to improve operational safety.

"These devices, which are becoming cheaper and more reliable, are critical tools in our investigations," said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. "In 47 of the 64 rail transit accidents the NTSB investigated between 1976 and 2015, audio and image recorders would have greatly helped in learning what happened by documenting and preserving data describing the actions and conditions leading to an accident."

The NTSB is currently investigating a Feb. 21, 2017, accident in Upper Darby, Penn., where a SEPTA train collided with the rear of a second SEPTA train stopped on a loop track near the 69th Street station. In a post-accident interview, the operator of the striking train said he could not remember his actions immediately prior to the collision and the operating cab was did not have audio or visual equipment (forward-facing cameras, audio or image recorders) that would shed light on those actions and provide investigators valuable insights to how and why the crash happened.

The NTSB has long advocated the broader use of recorders as a means to improve transportation safety; the issue is currently on the agency's Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements.

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