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Summary of Interviews with Carriers, Shippers, and Database Managers 31 making (NPRM) (Docket No. FRA200626173) calling for technical clarifications, expanding the scope of the instructions and improving certain definitions, proposing some new accident cause codes and collection of some additional data. In order to provide information to inspectors in a more timely manner, FRA is constantly monitoring railroad compliance with reporting requirements. When questioned about suggestions for improvement or changes that could be made to the database, the FRA official responded that FRA is especially looking for ways to improve turn- around time. Currently, they use a monthly "batch" process. The vision is for continuous flow of information into the database, enabling rapid detection of trends or evidence of potential prob- lems. Presently, there is about a two-month delay. Another area that FRA would like to see better utilized is reporting of incident location using latitude/longitude (lat/long) coordinates. The record layout permits that, but compliance is voluntary so it is inconsistently reported. The FRA Geographic Information System (GIS) group is developing a linkage between lat/long coordinates and linear locations along rail lines. The official also cited a problem relating to yard-switching miles that are not recorded directly, but estimated based on person-hours worked by the crew. This has a potential impact on the reliability of this parameter for normalization of accidents. 3.5 Summary of Findings from Interviews Many carriers and shippers, particularly the larger ones, have a formal process that triggers a graded response to accident investigation when an employee reports that he or she has been involved in an accident. For the more serious accidents, supplemental information is obtained in an effort to identify the root and contributing causes of accidents. One company collects infor- mation from witnesses, reviews the driver's log, the driver's cell phone usage, the driver's actions during the course of the accident, inspects the vehicle for defects, examines the vehicle operat- ing history, examines the roadway geometry, and takes pictures of the accident scene. Some believe they identify the root causes of accidents for between 70% to 80% of the accidents. In many cases, corrective actions are recommended. Carriers and shippers have a vested interest in preventing accidents, and many of the accident reports recommend corrective actions that will reduce the frequency--and perhaps the severity--of future accidents. Based on interviews with the organizations maintaining federal databases, although there is a commitment to improve both the quality and completeness of the data, there has not been a sig- nificant long-term commitment to capture information that is capable of identifying root and contributing causes of accidents. The most relevant hazmat database, HMIRS, focuses on the adequacy of packaging standards. MCMIS and RAIRS have a broader focus than hazmat acci- dents and would require a major refocusing if they were to begin collecting the information required to identify the root and contributing causes of hazmat accidents. Potential measures for achieving this objective are included in both the discussions of the individual databases in Chap- ter 4 and the potential measures presented in Chapter 5.