The 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia that killed 8 people and injured almost 200 others is now thought to have been caused by distraction on the part of the conductor. An investigation has found that the conductor, Brandon Bostian, had been listening to radio transmissions about another train's windshield having been hit by a rock right before the derailment happened.
According to the investigation, Bostian's distraction caused him to lose track of his location on the route. At the time of the accident, he had believed himself to be in a straightaway where conductors often accelerate to more than 100 miles per hour, when in fact he had been about to enter a curve where the speed limit was 50 miles per hour. The train had been moving at 106 miles per hour when it derailed on the Northeast Regional route.
Similar to car manufacturers that are installing automatic braking systems to protect drivers against distraction-related collisions, trains have been installing what is called "positive train control" technology to prevent accidents and derailments. This technology would detect a train's speed over a particular area of track, and warn the conductor if the train was traveling at an excessive speed. If the conductor failed to slow the train down after the warning, an automatic braking system would slow the train down to the appropriate speed.
Clearly, distraction is a major safety hazard for not only drivers, but operators of other modes of transportation, like trains, buses and aircraft. Safety measures like automatic braking in cars or positive train control technology could help, but likely will not entirely remove the possibility that human error will continue to cause accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured because of someone else's distraction, you may be able to pursue compensation to help pay for your medical bills, lost income and other expenses related to the accident. An experienced personal injury lawyer can provide more information about your specific situation