National Transportation Safety Board

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent Federal agency charged by federal law with investigating every civil aviation accident the United States and significant accidents in other modes of transportation – railroad, highway, marine and pipeline. The NTSB not only determines the cause of each accident, but also makes recommendations on how such accidents can be prevented in the future.

The NTSB has an elaborate process for gathering evidence and double checking all facts before publicly releasing any conclusions about any accident investigation.

Since 1996, the NTSB has been assigned some responsibility to assist families of victims of airplane crashes.

In 2000, the NTSB began to plan the "NTSB Academy" at the Virginia campus of George Washington University. In August 2003 the NTSB began operating this facility, whose name was changed in 2006 to the NTSB Training Center.

Train accident near Philadelphia

In May 2015, Brandon Bostian, accelerated a speeding Amtrak Northeast Regional Train number 188 into a curve near Philadelphia, resulting a derailment that killed 8 and injured more than 200. [1] Questions arose about the engineer's conduct just before the crash. On July 8, 2015, the NTSB issued an interim recommendation to Amtrack "that it should install crash- and fire-protected inward- and outward-facing audio and image recorders in the operating cabs of all of its trains, and review the recordings to ensure that crew actions are in accordance with procedures."[2] The engineer was distracted by radio communication regarding an earlier accident on a different train and failed to notice that his train was exceeding the speed limit for this curve.[3] The NTSB noted,

In 1970 the NTSB recommended that then-available technology — that could prevent collisions, overspeed accidents and protect track workers — be implemented on the nation’s railroads; the NTSB has advocated for it ever since. At Tuesday’s meeting, NTSB members expressed frustration with the slow progress of positive train control implementation, which for passenger trains was previously required to be completed by the end of 2015 before Congress extended the deadline until 2018 and delayed enforcement of the regulation for two years beyond that.

In a sense, the NTSB argued that if positive train control had been implemented, the Engineer being distracted would not have caused a crash with so many deaths. On May 12, 2017, after the Philadelphia district attorney declined to prosecute, the Pennsylvania Attorney General charged Bostian with eight misdemeanor counts and one felony count for the derailment, which have a potential prison sentence of up to ten years. The failure of the federal government and Amtrak to implement automatic safety measures does not absolve the engineer from his responsibility to maintain control of his train.


  2. Press Release. NTSB (July 8, 2015). Retrieved on May 12, 2016.