While investigators are still trying to pinpoint the cause of last month’s
deadly train accident outside of Philadelphia, most experts agree that
it was completely preventable. A system known as positive train control
(PTC) likely would have prevented the train from derailing if it had been
installed on the track.
Train crashes, including derailments and train-car collisions, are on the
rise. Overall, an estimated 1,000 people die in train accidents every
year. While train accidents can have a variety of causes, the country’s
aging rail infrastructure frequently plays a role.
According to safety officials, the positive train control system is relatively
easy to install and can prevent the human errors behind roughly 40 percent
of train accidents. However, it is extremely costly. As a result, many
rail companies have yet to widely deploy it, despite repeated calls from
the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
In a fact sheet published earlier this year, the
NTSB highlighted the benefits of the life-saving PTC technology. According to the NTSB, it has investigated at least 25 train accidents
since 2004 that resulted in 65 fatalities, 1,100 injuries, and millions
of dollars in damages, all of which could have been prevented with the
use of the positive train control system. As the agency further explains:
Imagine the engineer of a freight train suffering from the symptoms of
the cold he has been fighting for three days. Although he feels a little
better this morning, he is still coughing and tired. He does not notice
a red signal, and does not stop the train. What happens next? With PTC,
the train stops anyway.
In 2008, Congress enacted the Rail Safety Improvement Act. It requires
each Class 1 rail carrier and each provider of regularly-scheduled intercity
or commuter rail passenger service to implement a PTC system by December
31, 2015. Unfortunately, the NTSB has raised concerns about whether railroads
will be fully compliant by the end of the year.
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a San Diego accident,
don’t hesitate to
contacta San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.