September 1, 2017
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NTSB Calls for Inward- and Outward-Facing Cameras on Rail Transit Vehicles

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued three safety recommendations calling for the installation of crash-resistant inward- and outward-facing cameras in all rail transit vehicles, saying the cameras would greatly aid in crash investigations.

The recommendations, issued Aug. 31 to FTA 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. NTSB said 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.”

NTSB is currently investigating a Feb. 21, 2017, accident in Upper Darby, PA, near Philadelphia, where a SEPTA train collided with the rear of a second SEPTA train stopped on a loop track near a station. The train was not equipped with forward-facing cameras nor audio or image recorders in the operating cab. The NTSB-recommended recorders would have documented the operator’s actions, providing investigators valuable insights to how and why the crash happened.
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