On-board video and voice recorders

This video discusses the absence of on-board video and voice recorders in locomotives, which is one of the nine safety issues identified by the Transportation Safety Board as posing the greatest risk to Canadians. To find out more about these safety issues, see the Watchlist 2012.

Transcript of the video

On-board video and voice recorders

Advancing safety is at the core of what we do at the Transportation Safety Board. Our Watchlist—updated in June 2012—is the result of hundreds of investigations and countless hours of accident analysis. As a result, it identifies the issues that pose the greatest risk to Canadians and our transportation system. The introduction of on-board video and voice recorders is one of these key issues.

As part of our investigation process for railway accidents, our investigators analyze data from locomotive event recorders—similar to a black box on an aircraft. These event recorders provide incredibly valuable data such as how fast the train was going, whether or not the braking system was applied and if the brakes were activated manually by the crew or automatically by the train. But trains aren't equipped with voice recorders and are not normally equipped with video recorders.

Even though the information retrieved from locomotive event recorders plays a critical role in our investigations, the data alone does not always tell the whole story. To accurately piece together the sequence of events leading to an accident, we must also understand exactly how the crew communicated and what actions took place in the cab. The only way to capture this information, though, is by installing on-board voice and video recorders.

But this isn't new. We've been calling for voice recorders on Canadian trains since 2003. Accidents such as the train derailments in Saint Charles de Bellechasse, Québec and Burlington, Ontario only further emphasize the need for this technology. Thankfully, discussions on this issue are finally now underway between Transport Canada and industry stakeholders.

By placing this issue on our Watchlist, we hope that voice and video recorders become standard equipment on trains. Not just because Canadians expect accurate information about railway safety, but because they deserve it.