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Congressman Sires’ Statement on the National Transportation Safety Board’s Findings For the 2016 NJ Transit Accident in Hoboken, New Jersey

Feb 7, 2018
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sires issued the following statement regarding the National Transportation Safety Board’s finding on the probable cause of the September 2016 NJ Transit accident in Hoboken, New Jersey:

“After a years-long investigation, the National Safety Transportation Board (NTSB) has found that the probable cause of the 2016 New Jersey Transit accident in Hoboken that killed 1 person and injured 110 others was the engineer’s fatigue resulting from his undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). That means that the engineer was literally falling asleep at the controls. NTSB also found that this safety problem is not unique to NJ Transit -- it exists around the country due to lax medical testing standards in public transportation.

This is obviously unacceptable, which is why the Obama Administration’s Department of Transportation (DOT) was working on a federal rule to require bus, truck, and rail operators to be tested for OSA and to treat anyone found to be suffering from it. Ensuring that the people who have the lives of men, women, and children literally in their hands are capable of doing the job is common sense. What is more unacceptable, however, is that the Trump Administration pulled back on this proposed rule because it believes that the current safety programs are enough to address this issue.

They are not. If they were, this would not have happened in Hoboken or in Brooklyn four months later. I strongly believe that DOT must continue working on a rule to test transit operators for OSA with input from the public and other stakeholders. That is why I am an original co-sponsor of H.R. 3882, introduced by fellow-New Jersey Representative Bill Pascrell, which directs DOT to continue and complete this important rulemaking process. Lives depend on it.”