Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board
Closing Remarks
Board Meeting
Collision Involving Two Freight Trains
Goodwell, OK, June 24, 2012
Washington, DC — June 18, 2013


In closing, I want to recognize the NTSB staff for their hard work in developing and presenting this excellent safety report. Investigator-in-Charge Jim Southworth and his team did a terrific job. I want to also thank my fellow Board members for their participation today.

As we've learned before, railroads must pay extra attention to monitoring employees with chronic medical conditions who hold safety-sensitive positions. If an employee can put their life or the lives of others at risk, it is imperative that others take the necessary and appropriate action.

This engineer had a restricted driver's license due to his poor vision, yet, he had no similar restrictions on his ability to operate a mile long freight train. This accident highlights a significant safety gap in the rail industry, which must be quickly remedied.

The regulator and the rail industry should look to set better standards on medical certification and enforcement.

And all crewmembers must be vigilant throughout their journeys. There are two sets of eyes in a locomotive cab for a reason. Too many signals have been passed unnoticed and too many crashes have ensued.

And there must be a backup in case of human failure. There's a reason why we've included positive train control on our Most Wanted List for decades.

While the debate continues regarding delaying implementation of the provisions of the Rail Safety Improvement Act, today we deliberated on yet another PTC preventable accident."As a result, we recommended that FRA provide more accountability and transparency about the progress towards PTC. The discussion should not be focused on when PTC won't be implemented, but when it will be implemented.

Yes, we all are human and possess all the weaknesses that come with being human. But we also have strengths. And one of those strengths is the ability to recognize our weaknesses and invent new ways to overcome our limitations, such as PTC.

Let Goodwell spur our ability to overcome.

We stand adjourned.