What were the cause of Metrolink accident.docx - Vonnetta...

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Vonnetta WilliamsBusiness Government and SocietyWhat were the cause of Metrolink accident? The Metrolink engineer was distracted by texting. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the “probable cause” of the collision was “failure of the Metrolink engineer to observe and appropriately respond to the red signal . . . because he was engaged in prohibited use of a wireless device . . . that distracted him from his duties.” The NTSB also foundthat “lack of a positive train control system” was a “contributing” factor.1 If such a system had existed, it would have stopped the train at the red light, allowing the Union Pacific freight train to switch off on the siding.What could have been done to prevent the accident? Was management deficient? Were regulatory deficient? Should either have been doing anything differently?As noted above, a positive train control system would have prevented the accident by sensing a track violation and overriding the engineer to stop the train before it rolled past a red signal. Two other actions also could have prevented the collision.Robert Sanchez could have been fired or removed from safety-sensitive duties after violating cell phone rules. Management did not recognize that these rule violations were the tip of aniceberg. His cell phone records revealed a pattern of gross negligence. Because managementsaw his two cell phone violations in the context of hundreds of other “efficiency tests” that he mostly passed, they did not trigger alarms. Management could have made the safety-protective assumption that if two violations were recorded, many others went unobserved.Management could have installed audio or video equipment in locomotive cabs to monitor engineers. Video equipment would have deterred texting.It should be noted that both these management actions would have met union opposition. The Federal Railroad Administration required constant, frequent testing and observation of engineers. It did not get around to prohibiting engineers and conductors from using personal

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