Federal Safety Board Blasts DC Metro for Negligent Safety Attitude and Defective Machinery

By Peter DePaolis

The National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) recently completed its investigation of the DC Metro accident that killed nine people in June of 2009. The accident occurred just after 5 p.m. during the busy rush hour commute home. A red line Metro train slammed into the back of another one outside of Fort Totten Station. All of the fatalities – the driver and eight passengers – were in the rear train.

The NTSB investigation concluded that failed track circuit modules were one of the main reasons for the fatal crash. The Metro uses a computerized automatic train control system, and this system failed to detect the rear train. The failed circuit is part of the crash avoidance system on the red line. After the Metro replaced it earlier, the circuit gradually began losing its ability to detect trains on the tracks, but investigators did not discover the problem until after the accident.

Nevertheless, safety officials could have prevented the accident, the NTSB determined. The Metro failed to use a verification test across the entire Metro system, which would have uncovered the circuit failure. Without the verification test, controllers in the Metro operations center could not see the problem, because the malfunctions happened so quickly. The NTSB described safety at the DC Metro as a systemic breakdown of safety management at all levels. The Board also recommended that the Metro replace its aging Metro trains, which perform poorly in crashes. A Washington, D.C. personal injury lawyer can provide you with legal guidance if a public transportation accident has injured you or a loved one.

If a public transportation accident involving the Washington, D.C. Metro or other system has caused you injury, contact Paulette Chapman, a Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney, at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P to find out how you can obtain compensation for your injuries.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.