Amtrak crash: What investigators can learn from black boxes
May. 13, 2015
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal authorities will look at a variety of evidence as they try to pinpoint the cause of Tuesday night's derailment in Philadelphia of Amtrak Train 188, which killed at least seven people and injured 200. A former head of railroad accident investigations at the National Transportation Safety Board, Bob Chipkevich, says they'll focus on several things:
DATA RECORDER: The train's event data recorder, also known as its "black box," records train speed, throttle position, whether the brakes were applied and what degree of pressure was used, and whether the horn was sounded.
VIDEO RECORDER: The train's forward-facing video camera on the exterior of the cab may also yield key evidence such as whether anything was on the tracks before the derailment or whether there were kinks in the track caused by excessive heat. The video cameras often record sound as well. The sound a train's wheels make can help reveal broken track.
EQUIPMENT CONDITION: The condition of the rails and rail ties will be examined along with the inspection history of the track. The mechanical condition of the cars will be examined, including the wheels and the axles. Investigators will also look at how well — or how poorly — the cars withstood the crash. And they'll also look at how passengers were injured and whether there are any design components of the cars or lack of safety features that contributed to those injuries.