Charles Schumer and Other Senators Call for Sleep Apnea Testing in Public Transit Operators
Are public transit systems in New York and New Jersey safe for commuters to use, or do we need to worry about train accidents caused by operator error? According to a recent report from CBS New York, NY Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as New Jersey Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, have called for regulatory changes concerning driver fatigue and mass transit crashes. They released a letter to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that states:
“For years the NTSB has recommended sleep apnea testing, comprehensive fatigue risk management programs, and inward facing cameras and recently the Federal Railroad Administration, the key regulatory agency on this issue, took the important step of using Safety Advisories on both of these issues.”
Despite recommendations from the NTSB and the Federal Railroad Administration, public transit accidents caused by driver fatigue continue to occur. Earlier last month, a Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) train, according to the article, “hit a bumping block at the end of a track at Atlantic Terminal in Brooklyn . . . injuring more than 100 people.” The NTSB investigation following the crash suggested that the engineer may have suffered from sleep apnea given that he could not remember what happened at the time of the crash. An NTSB investigator reported that “the engineer was unable to recall striking the end of the track.” This crash occurred shortly after other unfortunate public transit accidents, including a crash involving a NJ TRANSIT train in Hoboken that injured more than 100 people. Sleep apnea was also to blame, according to NTSB officials, for the 2013 Metro-North train derailment that injured more than 70 people.
What do Senator Schumer and others want to happen? They want more sleep apnea testing on engineers and operators of public transit vehicles. According to Schumer, “the MTA should have done this a long time ago,” and he emphasized that there are no excuses for failing to conduct this testing now.
Staying Safe on Public Transit
While we cannot control the behavior of a train or bus operator, we can take steps to help lessen the risk of injury while riding on public transit vehicles. Take a minute to review the safety tip sheet from the New York Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee for commuter safety recommendations. And, in the event that you or someone you love sustained injuries in a mass transit accident, contact an experienced train accident attorney to discuss your situation.