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Public duty of care?

Public duty of care?

Postby Hairyloon » Sat Nov 19, 2016 3:27 pm

Is there any general duty of care that individuals are expected to bestow upon one another?
I am moved to ask by the footage by people watching their driver fall asleep at the wheel. I am gobsmacked that they appear to have filmed it and done nothing else until some considerable time later.
Do trams not have an emergency stop like trains do?
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Re: Public duty of care?

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Sat Nov 19, 2016 4:24 pm

I think you are being a little harsh; in retrospect it would have been better for the passengers to have intervened, but it's not always immediately obvious how great or immediate the risk is. And there are systems which are supposed to intervene if the driver loses vigilance.

There are emergency brakes (it appears that trams have a brake which the driver cannot override, which very few trains do) but they have a big warning on them about fining people for improper use.
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Re: Public duty of care?

Postby atticus » Sat Nov 19, 2016 4:25 pm

I had the same reaction on hearing of this. Is it cynical of me to think that this video only "emerged"* with the prospect of getting cash from a newspaper?

*another lazy journalists' word that gets my goat.
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Re: Public duty of care?

Postby Hairyloon » Sat Nov 19, 2016 7:07 pm

Smouldering Stoat wrote:I think you are being a little harsh; in retrospect it would have been better for the passengers to have intervened, but it's not always immediately obvious how great or immediate the risk is.

Harsh? What is it that you think I am suggesting?
I don't believe this film is of the tram that crashed, and if somebody did make such a video of that tram on that day, then I have little doubt that they will have no doubt that they could have prevented the accident and they can deal with their own conscience.
As for the other tram, AFAIK, there was no incident, so no damage: any negligence was inconsequential.

And there are systems which are supposed to intervene if the driver loses vigilance.

It appears that they do not work very well.
There are emergency brakes (it appears that trams have a brake which the driver cannot override, which very few trains do) but they have a big warning on them about fining people for improper use.

I'm interested to hear the argument that the driver falling asleep would be an improper use of the brakes.
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Re: Public duty of care?

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Sat Nov 19, 2016 7:55 pm

No. My point is that, in the light of the accident, previous incidents are more serious than they appeared at the time.

OK, the following paragraph is probably of interest only to nerds. Trains have two systems to ensure the driver is maintaining vigilance: a Driver's Safety Device, which requires the driver to keep a constant pressure on a footplate; and a Driver's Vigilance Device, which requires him to respond to an alert given at random intervals by releasing and reapplying the DSD footplate. If either device is triggered the emergency brakes are engaged and cannot be released until the train has been brought to a stand. My professional experience is that they work well to keep drivers alert: certainly Britain's railways are regarded as among the safest in the world. However my understanding is that trams are required to have only the first kind of device or a similar "dead man's handle" type device. Whether this is sufficient is something that plainly requires addressing.

Finally, I'm not arguing that it would have been an improper use of the passcomm. I'm saying that we actively discourage passengers from using it, and when we should be understanding when they don't use it.
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Re: Public duty of care?

Postby dls » Sat Nov 19, 2016 8:40 pm

Sadly, the likelihood is only that another couple of lowly drivers will be fed to the sharks. Those imposing impossibly demanding timetables and workloads will escape blame.
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Re: Public duty of care?

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Sat Nov 19, 2016 8:54 pm

There are some pretty strict rules about the workloads of safety-critical staff which were imposed after the Clapham rail disaster in which fatigue played a major part. The penalties for breaching them can be heinous. We even have a confidential hotline so we can rat on each other or our employers if anyone steps out of line.

Lowly drivers? A train driver can easily make fifty grand a year for a four day week.
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Re: Public duty of care?

Postby Hairyloon » Sat Nov 19, 2016 9:33 pm

Smouldering Stoat wrote:Lowly drivers? A train driver can easily make fifty grand a year for a four day week.

Here we are talking about trams. I suspect the rules for those fall between two stools and are regulated less than either.
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Re: Public duty of care?

Postby atticus » Sat Nov 19, 2016 11:42 pm

The driver is probably low in the corporate pecking order, even if well remunerated.
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Re: Public duty of care?

Postby miner » Sun Nov 20, 2016 4:45 pm

At the end of the day, seven people are DEAD as a result of the Croydon tram incident. That clearly indicates to me as an Engineer that the safety/override/default systems in place are wholly inadequate, and that the management systems are, too.
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