SMART Transportation Department urges continued use of Railroad Safety Advisory Committee

As the Department of Transportation asks for comments on existing rules and potential repeals, the Transportation Division of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers has called for continued reliance on the Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC).

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Reminding the DOT that existing laws were built on a history of learning through mistakes, the country’s largest rail union pointed out that most reductions in accidents and fatalities on the rails are due to safety regulations put in place by agencies like the Federal Railroad Administration. Further, having groups like the RSAC involved have made for a collaborative process they claim has helped foster a safe environment without over-burdening the industry.

“Since the establishment of the RSAC nearly 20 years ago, rail accidents per million train miles have decreased by nearly 30 percent as total miles and passenger counts increased significantly,” SMART National Legislative Director John Risch wrote in its comments. “The RSAC process has not only been a success, it is really a model that other government agencies should be using in their rulemaking process.”

Agreeing that the DOT’s notion of reviewing adopted regulations was a sound one, they said that RSAC is not one of the processes that should be modified or eliminated in said reviews. They said that the RSAC process is specifically how such reviews and discussions should occur.

“The primary focus of any such effort should be to make our industry safer with the goal of making workplace injuries and deaths a thing of the past,” Risch said.

Further, Risch and his organization pushed for a process steeped in data and sound science.