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Could Cameras Prevent Train Accidents?

U.S. senators have called for cameras to monitor engineers on trains throughout the country in the wake of the deadly train accident in the Bronx last week. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and New York senator Charles Schumer held a press conference at Grand Central calling for monitoring of train engineers.

The engineer on the Metro North train that crashed was reportedly sleepy or impaired right before the accident that killed four people and injured at least 60 others. The train was clocked at 82 MPH when it rounded a curve.

The idea of installing cameras and monitoring devices to prevent train accidents is not new. The National Transportation Safety Board recommended the installation of audio and video cameras in engine cabs five years ago.

NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said, "In an era where the average citizen has a device in their pocket capable of recording audio and video, installing cameras in locomotives for accident investigation and prevention purposes simply moves the railroad industry into the 21st century."

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority had no immediate response.

The NTSB said that it had a "long history of advocating for improvements stemming from fatal accidents."

Senator Schumer said fatigue was also a suspected cause in two other train collisions - one in Iowa, in 2011 and another in Newton, Massachusetts in 2008. He said that if cameras had been installed, these accidents might have been averted.

The NTSB first recommended cameras after a 2008 train crash in California that killed 25 people and injured many more. Senator Schumer said, "Get on board and implement these recommendations now."

Source: Skift.com, "Senators Suggest Cameras Monitor All U.S. Train Engineers After New York Crash," December 9, 2013.