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Fatal Amtrak crash renews urgency for automatic-braking ability

A Dec. 31 deadline that was set by Congress back in 2008 was put in place so that trains and railroads would adopt a system designed to automatically slow down trains if the engineer failed to lower speed limits or adhere to track signals. As of May 2015, however, this automatic-breaking equipment known as “positive train control” has been installed in only about half of the trains in the nation and along a little more than half of the tracks of the United States railways.

While Michael Melaniphy, CEO for the American Public Transportation Association, has stated that the commuter rail industry is 100 percent committed to developing and installing the technology for positive train control, it reportedly didn’t come soon enough to stop the derailment of the Amtrak train in Philadelphia on Tuesday, May 12, that killed eight people and injured more than 200. The train entered a sharp curve while traveling at more than twice the 50 mile per hour speed limit before leaving the track.

Although an investigation into the derailment remains ongoing, the National Transportation Safety Board has reportedly ruled out the possibility of the train having been hit by a bullet and is now focusing its attention on whether or not the engineer may have allegedly been using his cellphone just prior to the accident. The engineer’s attorneys have stated that the man did not consider himself fatigued or ill prior to the crash.

Individuals who have been injured or lost a loved one due to a Mass Transit accident may be entitled to compensation for their injuries or loss. They may find it beneficial to discuss their situation with an experienced personal injury attorney.

Source: My Central Jersey, “NJ Transit lags on safety tech missing in Amtrak crash,” Bart Jansen, Russ Zimmer, May. 15, 2015

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