The deadly train crash earlier this year at a Hoboken train station has caused investigators to take a deep dive into sleep apnea.
The crash of a train in Hoboken, New York earlier this year has caused the Federal Railroad Administration to announce plans to issue safety advisories to railroad that address worker fatigue, and to help speed up getting cameras into locomotives. This follows a report that the engineer on the train, which slammed into the Hoboken Terminal, had sleep apnea, a common condition where airways are obstructed leading to poor sleep and thus fatigue during waking hours.
The FRA will issue advisories in the coming days to deal with the issue. One person died in the accident, which happened when the train sped into the terminal at more than twice the speed limit.
Fatigue is not a new problem for train operators. The FRA examined 182 accidents from Jan. 1, 2001 through Dec. 31, 2012, and found that fatigue was named the probably cause, or contributing factor, in nearly 20 percent of those accidents.
“We owe it to these workers as well as the traveling public to provide the most thorough and timely safety guidance to ensure our constituents can depend on a safe and well-functioning transportation system,” U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and incoming Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer of New York wrote to FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg.
“The bottom line is that we must do all we can to prevent rail accidents in an era where the demands on rail are ever increasing,” Schumer said. “And so, these safety advisories are a crucial and positive step, and I hope all railroads will comply quickly.”
“You end up with an engineer who is so fatigued they’re dosing off, they’re falling asleep in these micro bursts and they often have no memory of it, and they’re operating a locomotive at the time, so they’re putting hundreds of people in danger,” Feinberg said according to an AP report.