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CHAPTER 5 Potential Measures for Improving the Identification of Root Causes for Hazardous Materials Crashes 5.1 Introduction This chapter discusses potential measures to improve the capability of officials and researchers to identify the root causes of hazmat transportation accidents. As discussed in Chapter 1 of this report, the following definition of root cause was used to develop these measures: One or more contributing factors that lead to the occurrence of a transportation accident and/or affect the severity of its consequences. As previously noted, root cause identification may depend on detailed and accurate information available for five major parameters of vehicle, driver, packaging, infrastructure, and situational. Inadequate information in any one of these parameters may result in the inability to accurately identify the root cause of the hazmat crash. If a contributing factor can be mitigated, the likelihood of occurrence and corresponding impacts of an entire class of accidents could be significantly reduced. When focusing on one class of accidents, such as single-vehicle cargo tank rollovers, much can be learned when the data show that a contributing factor is present in a large fraction of the accidents. Consequently, policies can be developed and actions initiated to improve safety. 5.2 Information System Development A key finding emanating from this study is the need to establish a root and contributing cause information system. The system would have the following two major components: Linking crash databases together so information in different databases can be easily retrieved for the same crash. This incorporates some of the same elements proposed by PHMSA for increasing the effectiveness of hazmat databases and techniques developed for FMCSA's Serious Hazmat Crash Project. Selecting a group of hazmat crashes annually for collecting additional information that will enable officials and researchers to identify the root and contributing causes of that class of haz- mat transport accidents. This follows lessons learned from FRA's detailed examination of selected crashes, NTSB's focus on investigating a certain class of crashes, techniques used for the Serious Hazmat Crash Project, and the TIFA database for adding to information in the FARS database. In order to move toward the identification of root and contributing causes, officials and researchers need to utilize all available data related to either a single hazmat crash or an entire population. Where crash information is collected in more than one database and by different parties, the data could be combined to provide a thorough accident portrait. For example, the 95