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Watchlist 2012

On-board video and voice recorders

Added to the Watchlist on 14 June 2012


There is no requirement for on-board video and voice recorders on locomotives.


Objective data is invaluable to investigators in helping them understand the sequence of events leading up to an accident and for identifying operational issues and human factors, including crew performance. Video and voice recordings would allow the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) investigators to confirm the nature of crew communications and the dynamics of crew actions and interactions. Moreover, such information would allow accident investigators to eliminate extraneous factors that did not play a role in the accident. Technology abounds in the area of recorded information and, indeed, the aviation industry has had voice recordings for at least three decades, and some sectors of the marine industry are considering adding video recordings to supplement their voice recordings.

A number of rail accident investigations in North America have led to findings, recommendations and other safety communications where human factors were identified as an underlying condition or an unsafe act. Many of these investigations would have benefitted from a recording of crew communications immediately prior to the accident. In Canada, early indications from investigations such as the VIA Rail derailment in Burlington, Ontario, (R12T0038), and findings in Saint-Charles-de-Bellechasse, Quebec, (R10Q0011) determined that recordings of crew interactions would have been useful. In the United States, accident investigations conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board, such as Silver Spring, Maryland, Anding, Mississippi, and Chatsworth, California, called for the installation of voice, video and forward-facing video recorders on locomotives.

Some Canadian railway companies have already installed forward-facing video recorders on their locomotives, but progress toward broader use of voice and video recorders in locomotive cabs has not been made.


The rail industry should ensure that communications in locomotive cabs are recorded.