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Sheehy, Lepore-Hagan renew fight to improve train safety in Ohio

Say two-person crews will help prevent fatal accidents, protect communities
March 16, 2017
Michael Sheehy News

State Reps. Michael P. Sheehy (D-Oregon) and Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) this week renewed the fight to improve rail safety in Ohio by introducing House Bill 107, legislation to require freight train operating crews to consist of at least two people. The lawmakers say passage of the bill will help cut down on operator fatigue and reduce the likelihood of fatal accidents. 

“Having spent over 40 years working in the railroad industry, I can attest to the importance of requiring two-person crews on all freight train operations,” Sheehy said. “Raising safety standards in our state will help protect our freight operators and keep communities safe.”   

According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), operator fatigue was the cause of at least eight major train accidents investigated by the board between 2000 and 2014. NTSB representatives estimate this number could actually be far higher, as fatigue also increases the likelihood of human error, which has been attributed to additional train crashes. 

“The safety of our freight operators and our communities must be our number one priority,” said Lepore-Hagan. “Eliminating a crew member just to improve a rail company’s bottom line puts all of us at risk. Maintaining two-person crews on all freight trains will cut down on accidents caused by mental fatigue and could save lives.” 

Similar legislation was introduced in the 131st General Assembly, just months after a tragic train accident near Philadelphia killed eight and injured more than 200 people. Only one operator was on board when the train, traveling 102 mph in a 50 mph zone, derailed after barreling into a curve in the tracks. 

House Bill 107 was referred to the House Transportation and Public Safety committee on Tuesday.