It's no secret that DOT has been working hard to prevent distracted driving on America's roadways. But we've also been working hard to prevent operator distraction in other types of transportation, and that includes rail.
The demands on our nation's train operators and engineers are pretty intense. With the development of high-end technological innovations, the typical locomotive cab has grown increasingly complex since the years when the Rock Island Jet Rocket raced between Chicago and my hometown, Peoria. And the advent of higher rail speeds means that operators must react faster than ever to whatever comes their way and pay closer attention to their controls and the tracks ahead.
Because we know that human factors are cited as a cause in one-third of all rail incidents, our pursuit of greater safety requires that we have a way of studying operator performance in the cab. Fortunately, through some terrific collaboration between the Federal Railroad Administration and the Research and Innovative Technology Administration's Volpe Center, we have been able to develop a solution to that challenge: the Cab Technology Integration Laboratory (CTIL).
The CTIL is a state-of-the-art, full-sized locomotive simulator that allows researchers to simulate a number of conditions and scenarios encountered during railroad operations. From these simulations we can identify safety problems and develop effective solutions.
Other features include modeling and visualization technologies that allow us to work with locomotive designers to assess how new technologies and control configurations affect operator performance.
Now, there are other locomotive simulators around the country, and they're very effective for training rail operators. But the Volpe Center's CTIL is the first and only simulator designed primarily for human factors research, and it has generated a lot of interest among rail industry stakeholders.
For example, one of the CTIL's research projects--in conjunction with Veolia Transportation, a leading commuter rail operator--seeks to identify causes and reasons for distraction and to develop strategies and countermeasures to prevent rail incidents. Another partner in this research is the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, whose engineers are sitting in the driver's seat for the project. This study of distraction is the first to apply the science of cognitive performance to the railroad workplace.
This research will benefit millions of Americans, even those who neither ship by rail nor ride commuter rail. With thousands of miles of track so close to our roads and communities, rail safety is everyone's business. That's why I'm thankful that the FRA, the Volpe Center, and the CTIL are on the job.