FRA requests study of close-call rail incidents

January 7, 2010

Researchers in the Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics recently submitted a request to collect and analyze information on close-call rail incidents and other unsafe occurrences in the rail industry.

According to a notice (.pdf file) published in the Jan. 4 Federal Register, DOT is seeking approval from the Office of Management and Budget for renewal of information collection supporting a five-year research study. Researchers define a "close call" as a situation in which an ongoing sequence of events was stopped from developing further, preventing the occurrence of potentially serious safety-related consequences. Researchers estimate the frequency of such events is approximately two per day.

The Confidential Close Call Reporting System Demonstration Project would require employees to spend up to 30 minutes answering a questionnaire and, if needed, participate in a brief interview regarding a reported close call. Researchers also plan to develop a database to help identify safety issues and provide corrective measures before an incident occurs.