Over the decades, new recorder technologies have been developed, increasing the likelihood of identifying the cause of an accident that 20 years ago would have gone unsolved. However, certain categories of aircraft and other vehicles are not equipped with some of these technologies, which would aid in identifying crash causal factors by providing critical information on vehicle dynamics and occupant kinematics. For example, in a motorcoach, an electronic data recorder (EDR) would provide vehicle dynamics and passenger occupant kinematics to help evaluate injury exposure, as well as evaluate passenger protection safety devices and systems. Using this type of data, investigators can predict potential injury mechanisms and the effects of various design elements on occupant protection systems.
In other cases, even with better techniques, better tools, multiple onboard computers, and data and voice recorders, some questions remain unanswered because we lack the first-hand knowledge that can only be gleaned from image recordings. Although image recorder technology is relatively low cost, its use remains voluntary throughout the transportation system. Further, the use of recorded information for operational and safety oversight purposes provides an opportunity to identify and address safety issues before accidents occur. While some operators have implemented or are in the process of implementing such programs, regulatory requirements to do so are nonexistent, and most operators across the transportation industry are not proactive in this area.
Most of the difficult work has already been accomplished by the industry. Low-cost, compact image recorders capable of storing several hours of information are readily available. We simply need the regulations to require their use, where the expectations for promoting safety are higher and therefore outweigh some privacy concerns. Other low cost data/audio/image crash resistant recorders are also readily available and can be easily installed in vehicles that currently do not require crash hardened recorders (such as aircraft cockpit voice recorders).
Title: Aircraft Accident Report: Loss of Control on Approach, Colgan Air, Inc., Operating as Continental Connection Flight 3407, Bombardier DHC 8 400, N200WQ, Clarence Center, New York, February 12, 2009
NTSB Report Number: AAR-10-01, adopted on 2/2/2010 [Summary | PDF Document]
Title: Railroad Accident Report: Collision of Metrolink Train 111 with Union Pacific Train LOF65–12 Chatsworth, California, September 12, 2008
NTSB Report Number: RAR-10-01, adopted on 1/21/2010 [Summary | PDF Document]
Title: Railroad Accident Report: Collision of Two Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Metrorail Trains Near Fort Totten Station, Washington, D.C., June 22, 2009
NTSB Report Number: RAR-10-02, adopted on 7/27/2010 [Summary | PDF Document]
Title: Aircraft Accident Report: Crash During Takeoff of Carson Helicopters, Inc. Firefighting Helicopter Under Contract to the U.S. Forest Service, Sikorsky S-61N, N612AZ, Near Weaverville, California, August 5, 2008
NTSB Report Number: AAR-10-06, adopted on 12/7/2010 [Summary | PDF Document]
Title: Marine Accident Report: Collision Between U.S. Passenger Ferry M/V Block Island and U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Morro Bay, Block Island Sound, Rhode Island, July 2, 2008
NTSB Report Number: MAR-11-01, adopted on 12/3/2010 [PDF Document]
Title: Highway Accident Report: Truck-Tractor Semitrailer Rear-End Collision Into Passenger Vehicles on Interstate 44, Near Miami, Oklahoma, June 26, 2009
NTSB Report Number: HAR-10-02, adopted on 9/28/2010 [Summary | PDF Document]
Title: Aircraft Accident Report: Crash of Pinnacle Airlines Flight 3701, Bombardier CL-600-2B19, N8396A, Jefferson City, Missouri, October 14, 2004.
NTSB Report Number: AAR-07-01, adopted on 1/10/2007 [Summary | PDF Document]
NTIS Report Number: PB2007-910402
Title: Aircraft Accident Report: Midair Collision of Electronic News Gathering Helicopters KTVK-TV, Eurocopter AS350B2, N613TV, and U.S. Helicopters, Inc., Eurocopter AS350B2, N215TV Phoenix, Arizona July 27, 2007
NTSB Report Number: AAR-09-02, adopted on 1/28/2009 [Summary | PDF Document]
NTIS Report Number: PB2009-910402
For more information on the safety recommendations in these reports that address this Most Wanted List issue area, see: http://www.ntsb.gov/safetyrecs/private/QueryPage.aspx.