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Managed by Paul J. Loftus, a partner at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, Transportation Law Today provides professionals in the rail, transit, inland maritime, and trucking industries with current news and analysis of laws, rulings, and regulatory policies.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

NTSB Recommends Railroads Monitor for Electronic Device Use by Crews

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)recommended today that the railroad industry "use technology-based solutions to detect the presence of signal-emitting electronic devices and that inform railroad management about the detected devices in real time." The recommendations are R-13-5 through R-13-8 (attached here) which were issued following the Board's investigation of a September 2010 train collision between two Canadian National trains in Minnesota. The Board's recommendations call for the use of sensing equipment to report use of electronic devices by crew members to rail management. The most recent recommendations are related to 49 CFR part 220 which prohibits the use of personal electronic devices by train crews. The Board also reiterated prior recommendations to the rail industry dating to 2010 covering the installation of video equipment in train cabs to verify and monitor crew compliance with rules and procedures - classifying the state of these recommendations as "Open- Unacceptable Response." It is likely today's recommendations will not be popular with rail labor, however it should be remembered that there was resistance to forward facing video equipment on locomotives some years past. That resistance has moderated as both railroad and train crews have seen the value of video evidence of crossing accidents, which often implicate drivers in accidents.