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Accident Prevention Technology Tops Safety Agency Wish List

Despite Warnings, Some U.S. Trains Still Running Without Life-Saving Tech 2:12

Technology aimed at decreasing roadway, railway and airway accidents tops the National Transportation Safety Board’s annual “most wanted” list, officials announced Wednesday.

Safety officials are urging transportation officials and the industry to step up implementation of such measures as positive train control, a wireless communications system that, once fully operable, will essentially connect and monitor every train on every track across the United States in order to prevent accidents. Experts have said positive train control could have prevented last year’s deadly Amtrak train derailment outside of Philadelphia.

“It is frustrating and as some of you know, some of you were up in Philadelphia in May, and we had the Amtrak crash, it was very frustrating and it's sad to go to accidents where we keep seeing the same thing that we know there's technology that could have prevented that crash,” said Robert Sumwalt, a member of the NTSB board.

Putting a Brake on Train Crashes: The Positive Train Control System 0:58

Officials also would like to see automatic breaking on cars, trucks and trains and a greater promotion of collision avoidance technologies on all highway vehicles. Beyond the technology recommendations, the NTSB would like drivers and pilots to disconnect from distracting technologies such as smartphones, be medically fit to operate vehicles and aircraft and the transportation industry do more to end substance use by drivers and pilots.

“If all drivers were unimpaired, well rested, and attended, still would be crashes, we are all human,” said Christopher Hart, the NTSB chairman. The board is “promoting the next layer of protection, collision avoidance technology.”