Thu, Nov 08, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Transportation safety agency to be set up

MAJOR INCIDENTS:The national transportation safety and investigation agency would only investigate railway or highway accidents involving at least 15 casualties

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

A national transportation safety and investigation agency is to be established next year to investigate accidents involving railways, highways, shipping and aviation, Aviation Safety Council Chairman Young Hong-tsu (楊宏智) said yesterday.

Young made the announcement at a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee in Taipei when he was scheduled to brief lawmakers about the council’s budget for the next fiscal year.

The draft bill to establish such an agency, which would be similar to the US National Transportation Safety Board, is being reviewed by the Executive Yuan, Young said, adding that the draft bill would be sent to the Legislative Yuan for deliberation by the end of this month.

The nation currently only has the Aviation Safety Council to investigate the causes of major aviation accidents, usually involving passenger casualties or significant damage to aircraft.

Although the proposal for an independent body that would be in charge of investigating the causes of major transportation accidents has been around for years, it was not until the derailment of a Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) Puyuma Express train in Yilan County last month that the government and lawmakers started to take the proposal seriously and decided to act upon it, he said.

Meanwhile, the public has been questioning the validity of the TRA investigation into the Puyuma Express derailment, as it is serving as both the referee and player at the same time, Young said.

Young said that 45 percent of deaths in the nation each year are caused by transportation accidents.

The agency, which would be directly supervised by the Executive Yuan, would conduct independent investigations into aviation and shipping accidents, as well as those on railways and highways, he said.

The agency would also make suggestions to all stakeholders involved in accidents to prevent them from occurring again, he added.

The annual budget allocated to the Aviation Safety Council would not be enough to cover the increase in operational costs once the new agency is established, he said.

The legislature would have to allocate extra funding to support the operation of the agency, he added.

The agency would only investigate railway or highway accidents involving at least 15 casualties, Young said.

It would undertake investigations into shipping and aviation accidents if there was one fatality or there was damage to vessels or aircraft, he said.

While it would take about two years for the agency to be fully established, Young said that the top priority would be to establish an investigative team for railway accidents.

If the agency lacks professionals at the initial stage to investigate major transportation accidents, it would seek assistance from similar agencies in other nations, he said.

The agency is expected to handle about 20 cases per year, he said.

It would have about 100 staff, with each investigative team consisting of 25 people, Young said, adding that nine to 11 commissioners would review the results of investigations.

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