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Fatigue a safety factor in transportation?

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Obviously it can be, but in this case the driver's own lawyer said "his client had had a full night's sleep before the crash"

 

That suggests fatigue wasn't involved in this accident, unless one is very cynical.
 

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but fatigue IS a factor in transportation safety, isn't is?

 

Definitely yes. Today people are more sleep deprived then ever as incomes are stretched, single parents, two income families, multiple jobs, trying to balance your children's needs. many of those factors come to play. 

 

This article says the driver had a full nights sleep but he is still human and seems to have nodded off at the controls. I am pretty sure there is a deadman's switch in the locomotive as it is a regulation in the USA as far as I know.

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There almost certainly was a dead-man's control. However having been involved with railways in the UK drivers will try to find ways round them unbelievable as it may seem. That's why more positive systems are fitted requiring the driver to respond at frequent intervals.

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There almost certainly was a dead-man's control. However having been involved with railways in the UK drivers will try to find ways round them unbelievable as it may seem. That's why more positive systems are fitted requiring the driver to respond at frequent intervals.

Yes I was thinking they have one of the button type ones that must be pushed every 30 seconds or something like that.

 

 

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Yes I was thinking they have one of the button type ones that must be pushed every 30 seconds or something like that.

 

 

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Yes Correct Matt. In NZ they are called a "Vigilance Device ". In the USA and I think the UK, they are called an "Alerta".

The ones fitted to the Locomotives in NZ can only be isolated by breaking "The Glass" and turning the isolating valve.

It can only be isolated by the Engineer when instructed to by a higher authority. Any unauthorized isolation of the VD is an instant dismissal.

In regards to the tragic crash in NY, it was mentioned that the driver in question had been two week into day shift, after coming off many weeks of night shift. This is interesting, because, when I was an Engineer myself, I would take at least 3 weeks for the old body clock to adjust.

Of course, that only happened when I took leave, as my roster was 6 weeks of night shift out of 7.

This is only a theory, and I am sure more will be revealed later, as to the drivers movements leading up to the crash.

There has been lots of discussion about fatigue management over the years, even back in the 70's, when a number of incidents occurred where driver fatigue was suspected. The human brain is a complex thing, and one can very easily go into a sleep mode without even noticing, and that is with eyes wide open. I have experienced this over the many years on the footplate, and my colleagues as well.

This cannot be ruled out in the NY crash, and I would bet my bottom dollar it is a probable cause. I am sure pilots suffer the same thing, but better understood in the Aviation industry.

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Definitely yes. Today people are more sleep deprived then ever as incomes are stretched, single parents, two income families, multiple jobs, trying to balance your children's needs. many of those factors come to play. 

 

This article says the driver had a full nights sleep but he is still human and seems to have nodded off at the controls. I am pretty sure there is a deadman's switch in the locomotive as it is a regulation in the USA as far as I know.

 

Well, in this case the loco was on the back, but yes there is a deadman pedal in the cab up front.  What is being claimed so far (apparently mainly his union, not the investigators) is he "zoned out", and was actually accelerating so it wasn't like he was "unconscious". 

 

There's also a requirement from 2008 that passenger railroads install a system to provide "positive train control" (PTC) by 2015 that would probably have kicked in here if it had been installed.  The actual system being used by Metro-North is called ACSES II and might be thought of as sort of a combo TCAS-GPWS.  The system is developed by a company named "Alstom", but originally known as General Railway Signal (one of the two companies which historically have provided most of the railroad signals in the US, the other being Union Switch & Signal now known as Ansaldo STS).

 

A difference here from aviation is that railroads own their own right of way, so there isn't the same sort of government infrastructure that you see with Air Traffic Control.

 

scott s.

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