New Jersey residents received a shock when, during the morning rush hour, a high-speed train packed with passengers slammed into a terminal. One woman died on the platform and more than 100 people were injured in the Hoboken train crash. According to witnesses on the scene, the train overran its designated stopping point, smashed into a bumper block, which caused it to go airborne and crashed through one of the busiest terminals in the New York area.
While the cause of the train crash is still under investigation, engineering experts believe it was likely caused by human error. The engineer claims he entered the train station at only 10 miles per hour, was fully rested and was not on his cell phone. The engineer also said he does not remember the crash itself.
However, at a recent press conference, New Jersey Transit officials confirmed the train was definitely going too fast before it slammed into the station’s busy concourse. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is looking to examine all possible causes, including:
- Operator error
- Possible mechanical issues
- Signal failures
- Track issues
What is Operator Error?
The operation of a train with multiple cars and hundreds of passengers is no easy task and requires full concentration at all times. When a train operator puts passengers at risk by acting carelessly or negligently, this I called operator error. Common types of operator errors include:
- Speeding – Trains have to begin slowing down miles before being able to come to a complete stop. When an operator speeds, they are more likely to derail the train, especially around curves or are more likely to cause a collision.
- Distracted driving – Train operators are expected to remain focused while operating trains. When they are texting, talking on the phone or adjusting the radio, they are putting passengers at risk.
- Failure to stop – While some operators are familiar with certain train routes, it does not excuse failure to yield at lights, exchanges and intersections. Failure to stop is one of the most common causes of train crashes.
- Operating while fatigued – Studies show fatigued train operators are not able to fully focus on their duties and surroundings.
If the train’s engineer had at some point become capacitated, a train safety technology exists called positive train control (PTC). This technology uses GPS to track the train and can also automatically stop the train, if necessary. Unfortunately, NJ Transit has not installed this technology onto their trains or track segments. If it had, perhaps the Hoboken train crash could have been prevented.
Spevack Law Firm is a personal injury law firm in New Jersey that helps those injured in transportation accidents.