Human-factor-caused train accidents, such as a January 2005 accident in Graniteville, South Carolina, which killed nine people and resulted in the release of toxic chlorine gas, have increased in recent years. The Transportation Department has issued a regulation to reduce such accidents by emphasizing the need to follow operating procedures.
In January 2005, an accident in Graniteville, South Carolina, which killed nine people and resulted in the release of toxic chlorine gas, occurred when a train was erroneously diverted off a mainline track due to an improperly lined switch, then collided with a parked train.
In an effort to reduce such human-error-driven accidents, which have been on the rise, the U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a regulation that places greater accountability on both railroad management and employees for complying with basic operating rules, according to a release from the agency.
The rule establishes that "relatively simple errors such as improperly lined track switches, shoving rail cars without a person in front to monitor for clear track ahead, and leaving rail cars in a position that obstruct or foul an active track may now result in a violation of federal rail safety regulations," says the release . In the past, these infractions were not treated as safety violations.