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108 Hazardous Materials Transportation Incident Data for Root Cause Analysis 5.4.3.2 Potential Measures to Improve Data Quality The TIFA system is complete and mature. It is subject to annual review and adjustment, including continuing training of the coders. However, greater cooperation with the FARS pro- gram could probably help to increase the accuracy with which trucks are identified. 5.4.3.3 Compatibility with Other Databases The comments previously associated with the FARS data apply equally to TIFA, since TIFA uses the same case number system. However, there is an additional constraint on linking the TIFA file to other data systems, in that it raises a risk of identifying specific individuals or orga- nizations. The TIFA program is bound by commitments to respondents to protect their identity, and by the terms of its operations under the University of Michigan's Institutional Review Board (IRB). Thus, any effort to link the data to other data systems would be unlikely to be allowed. 5.4.4 Potential Measures for RAIRS For rail transport of hazardous materials, Item 1, and to a substantial extent Item 2, are fairly well developed, thanks to a combination of company, industry, and government programs. The requirement that railroads provide the reporting mark and number of all cars involved in releasing hazmat and the quantity released is useful because this facilitates acquisition of more infor- mation about the design of the car via the AAR's Universal Machine Language Equipment Register (UMLER) database. An audit of the 2007 FRA data found that for all of the hazmat cars that the Class 1 railroads indicated had released hazardous materials, they provided the required informa- tion for all but one that they indicated had released product. The single discrepancy was a case in which a railroad indicated two cars had released product, but only one car was identified. It is not possible to determine which was incorrect, the number of cars that actually released hazardous materials in the accident, or if a second car's identity and information should have been provided. The same level of compliance was not evident for the non-Class 1 railroads. However, non-Class 1 railroads are responsible for a much smaller percentage of the hazmat cars that release in accidents so the impact of these on overall data completeness is much less. The value of this requirement could be considerably enhanced in terms of root cause analysis if the following changes were made with regard to reporting mark, car number, and identification of the commodity being transported: 1. Provision of the reporting mark and number of all derailed cars of any type; 2. Provision of the commodity, reporting mark, and car number for all derailed cars placarded as transporting hazardous materials; 3. Provision of the commodity, reporting mark, car number, and quantity released for all tank cars, whether or not they are transporting hazardous material; and 4. Provision of the same information called for in No. 3 for all intermodal, portable tanks being transported on cars that derail, along with the reporting mark and number of the railcar transporting them. The reasoning for each is as follows: Knowledge of all derailing cars would provide the all-important "denominator" data needed to establish normalized rates of failure for various railcars and their critical design elements. It does little good to know if 10 times as many of one car type release compared to another if one does not know if there were 10 times as many cars of the former type being transported compared to the latter. Although tank cars transport the majority of hazardous materials, covered hoppers, boxcars, and intermodal cars transport significant quantities as well. It is useful to be able to distinguish the performance of different car types in accidents, which implementing these potential meas- ures would allow.