Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board
Closing Statement
Washington, DC - April 24, 2012
Railroad Accident Report - Red Oak, Iowa, April 17, 2011
(As Prepared for Delivery)


I want to thank my fellow Board members for their participation today. I also want to recognize the NTSB staff who completed this accident investigation and developed this report, in particular, the staff from the Office of Railroad, Pipeline, and Hazardous Materials Investigations and from the Office of Research and Engineering. Mike Flanigon, the Investigator-in-Charge, and his team did an excellent job. I'd also like to acknowledge the many groups and individuals who assisted in the emergency response and recovery efforts immediately after the accident.

This report highlighted fatigue, a key safety issue in rail transportation, especially with its irregular schedules and the prevalence of sleep disorders.

There are a number of technologies and methods to improve rail safety, but the strongest safety tool is assuring that there is a skilled, trained, and vigilant engineer in the cab.

That is why managing fatigue is so important. But, humans can make mistakes, and, it is why the next best safety tools are backup systems that take maximum advantage of today's knowledge and technology, such as PTC.

We stand adjourned.