What the NY wreck can teach us about train safety in Oklahoma

Many people in Oklahoma City likely heard about the commuter train accident in that happened in New York more than a week ago. Four people died when a speeding train derailed as it navigated a curve in the tracks. Now, investigators are trying to get to the root of the crash. 

The most obvious issue in this case is that the train was traveling at 82 mph when the speed limit for that portion of the tracks was only 30 mph. An investigation has so far raised questions about the engineer's condition at the time of the crash as well as missing safety features on the train. 

According to his attorneys, the engineer experienced a sort of daze moments before the crash occurred. They likened it to something known as highway hypnosis, saying it could have happened to anyone. At the scene of the crash, the engineer told police his mind had wandered before the train derailed. 

Although the trains brakes and rail signals were working properly, the train lacked equipment that would sound an alarm and automatically engage the brakes if an engineer had not moved the controls for a certain amount of time. The train was, however, outfitted with a pedal that the operator had to be pushing at all times or the train would slow down.

While the investigation is not complete in this case, it is clear that many factors could have contributed to this dangerous train accident. As investigators do determine what caused this tragic accident, train operators in Oklahoma and the rest of the country should take notice and adjust their practices accordingly. 

Source: News9.com, "Lawyer: NY engineer had 'daze' before train wreck," Dec. 4, 2013

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