What is a close call?

A close call is an accident that could have happened but did not. If ignored, close calls can lead to serious consequences. They are an opportunity to improve safety practices. Understanding the factors that lead to an unsafe event can greatly reduce the risk of an accident. The Close Call Data Program (CCDP) analyzes close calls and addresses their root causes. This helps prevent accidents before they happen.

The Close Call Data Program (CCDP)

Safety is a serious transportation issue. The U.S. Department of Transportation works towards eliminating transportation-related injuries and fatalities in the United States. Most transportation-related accidents have a small impact, while others are large-scale catastrophes that affect many people.

Transportation safety has improved to the point that there aren’t enough smaller-scale accidents to provide useful data for analysis. This may seem like a good problem to have, but this crucial data is necessary to prevent catastrophic accidents. The Close Call Data Program is a way to get this data without the occurrence of an actual accident.

Collecting data helps CCDP find the root cause of the close call. Then, CCDP develops corrective actions that work to prevent similar accidents.

BTS maintains the confidentiality of all data collected through CCDP.

Would you like to work with us?

History of CCDP

Clos Call Data Program Timeline

Many industries that include a degree of risk in their daily operations have a system in place to report and analyze close calls. Encouraged by the success of the close call system in the aviation industry, the Federal Railroad Association (FRA) formed a Planning Committee representing stakeholders from industry, labor organizations, and government in June 2002. The Committee's purpose was to determine how best to introduce the importance of studying close calls to the railroad industry. By the end of April 2003, the FRA's Office of Research and Development presented "Human Factors Workshop: Improving Railroad Safety through Understanding Close Calls" in Baltimore, MD.

In 2006, the FRA sponsored a pilot project supported by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS): the Confidential Close Call Reporting System (C3RS), which tested a voluntary and confidential close call reporting system in the railroad industry. The pilot program determined that it is possible to change punishment-based work cultures to more trusting environments in which close call data can be reported without fear of retaliation. The railroad pilot program ended in June 2015.

In 2013, the Close Call Reporting System was implemented for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). A new, web-based submission tool has been employed for the collection of close call reports. This project is currently ongoing.

A new CCDP project, SafeOCS, aims to change the punishment-based work culture in the oil and gas industries, which prevents the collection of crucial close call data. SafeOCS is being developed under BTS and the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE).

Work with CCDP

Would you like to start a CCDP project?

E-mail Demetra Collia at demetra.collia@dot.gov or fill out and send the form below:

Note: This form is not encrypted. If you would like to report a close call or near-miss event, please use the eSubmit tool for your carrier. You can also call us at 1-888-568-2377 for the WMATA program or 1-844-OCS-FRST (1-844-627-3778) for the SafeOCS program.

CCDP Confidentiality Policy

BTS Confidentiality Page

The Close Call Data Program (CCDP) is supported by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. As a federal statistical agency, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) must meet its mission requirements to collect and disseminate high quality transportation information while upholding its legal and ethical obligations to respect the privacy of those who have provided that information.

When BTS collects transportation information for a statistical purpose under a pledge of confidentiality, BTS is required by law to protect that information. Close call reporters and other respondents must be able to trust that the information they provide to BTS is protected and not subject to unauthorized disclosure. To maintain this trust, BTS implements confidentiality procedures that protect individually identifiable information.

BTS Confidentiality Procedures

BTS takes privacy laws and its ethical obligations to protect information very seriously. BTS has standardized confidentiality procedures in place throughout the agency to make sure respondents’ data is protected and secured. BTS does not disclose your personal information to any unauthorized person.

Standards in place that protect your personal information include:

  • security measures that block outside access to any confidential information stored on BTS computers
  • a requirement that all BTS employees and contractors sign a nondisclosure agreement that makes them subject to several laws providing stiff penalties (including jail time) for the unauthorized release of confidential information
  • confidentiality training for all employees and contractors on an annual basis
  • random inspections that make sure all employees and contractors observe all information security protocols and confidentiality procedures
  • deletion of names, addresses, and/or any other items that could directly identify an individual or business from BTS data files
  • application of disclosure limitation methods before releasing any data so no confidential information about individuals or businesses can be inferred from released data

CIPSEA: Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act

CIPSEA text (.html)

CIPSEA text (.pdf)

BTS is authorized by law, 49 U.S.C. 111(c)(2), to collect transportation information for its programs, including CCDP. The BTS confidentiality statute, 49 U.S.C. 111(i), and CIPSEA protect the information BTS collects. These laws make sure that any identifying, sensitive, or proprietary information that BTS collects is not released to unauthorized persons or organizations.

In 2003, BTS hosted confidentiality seminars in response to the passage of CIPSEA.

When collecting or acquiring information for a statistical purpose under CIPSEA, BTS:

  • must use a pledge of confidentiality
  • must protect the information
  • cannot allow unauthorized access to the information
  • may share the information for statistical purposes if the respondent consents, and then only under a written agreement signed by the director of BTS
  • makes sure any party or agent receiving released confidential information pledges confidentiality, becoming subject to the restrictions and penalties provided in CIPSEA
  • enforces that employees, contractors, and agents are subject to felony charges and fines for knowingly disclosing confidential information (5 years prison and/or $250,000 fine)
  • cannot release the information under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request

Confidentiality Pledge

BTS uses a pledge of confidentiality when collecting or acquiring any information for statistical purposes. This is a guarantee that BTS will only use the information it collects for statistical purposes and actively protects the information from unauthorized disclosure and use.

Disclosure Limitation Methods

The BTS Disclosure Review Board (DRB) reviews information products for disclosures of confidential information before disseminating them to the public. To protect the confidentiality of data, the DRB requires the application of disclosure limitation methods to information products. BTS does this to prevent anyone from using published statistical data to identify an individual or business that has provided confidential information. These disclosure limitation methods modify or remove the characteristics that can put information at risk for disclosure.

BTS sometimes releases microdata files that contain individuals’ responses. All individual identifiers, like your name and address, are removed from these records. BTS also changes unique characteristics (for example, high levels of income) through disclosure limitation methods. BTS restricts geographic identifiers, such as the name of a city, so populations are composed of at least 100,000 people. For tables of data, BTS takes steps to disguise or suppress the original data to ensure confidentiality.


Do you have questions about keeping your information confidential?

Do you have comments or concerns?

Please contact the BTS Confidentiality Officer:

Demetra Collia
Confidentiality Officer
Phone: 202-366-1610
E-mail: demetra.collia@dot.gov

Close Call Data Program Handouts

WMATA Close Call Reporting Works Newsletters

Newsletter 1
December 2013

Newsletter 2
March 2014

Newsletter 3
August 2014

Newsletter 4
October 2014

Newsletter 5
March 2015

SafeOCS Near-Miss Reporting System

Visit the SafeOCS Near-Miss Reporting System Page

SafeOCS collects and analyzes reports of near-miss events in the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The Near-Miss Reporting System for SafeOCS is voluntary and confidential.

Our goals are to:

  • identify industry-wide safety trends in oil and gas operations
  • advance safety in oil and gas operations on the OCS
  • protect the identities of near-miss reporters
  • support innovation that reduces accidents

Who can participate?

Our program is targeted to employees working in offshore oil and gas operations on the OCS, but anyone can report a near-miss event. That is, any employee, whether they're a line employee or a supervisor, can submit a near-miss event. Individual companies are also encouraged to submit near-miss data.

What counts as a near-miss event? What events are eligible for this program?

A "near-miss" is any sequence of events that could have resulted in human injury, environmental damage, or a negative business impact, but did not due to a change in the chain of events. Any near-miss event is eligible for our program.

Why should I participate in SafeOCS?

By reporting a near-miss event, you can help prevent near-misses from becoming real accidents in the future. Your name and your company's name are protected by law. SafeOCS takes your confidentiality seriously. If you are concerned about reporting a near-miss event in a secure environment while offshore, you can report online or by phone when you're off the facility.

WMATA Confidential Close Call Reporting

Visit the WMATA Confidential Close Call Reporting Page

The Close Call Reporting Program is sponsored by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), the Amalgated Transit Union Local 689 (ATU L-689), and the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. This program collects reports on close call events, determines the root causes of unsafe conditions and develops preventative safety actions to prevent similar events from happening in the future.

Our goals are to:

  • improve rail transit safety
  • give WMATA employees a confidential platform so they can voluntarily report close call events without the fear of disciplinary action
  • share information on trends in reported close call events to support WMATA's efforts to improve safety
  • measure the program's impact on safety by analyzing reporting patterns over time

Who can participate?

The following personnel are eligible for this program:

  • all L-689 represented employees in the DGMO directorate (including Rail Transportation, RTRA, and Transit Infrastructure, TIES)
  • the IT directorate in the Integrated Network Technician classification
  • the frontline supervisors of the above employees

What events aren't eligible for close call reporting?

All injuries are excluded from close call reporting protections, but they may be reported to BTS.

Events aren't accepted if they:

  • were intended to damage WMATA's operations or equipment, injure other employees, or purposely place others in danger (that is, sabotage)
  • involved a criminal offense
  • involved substance abuse or the inappropriate use of controlled substances
  • contained falsified information in the report
  • resulted in an identifiable release of hazardous material
  • were observations reported in real-time to WMATA by a WMATA supervisor, employee, or customer (A real-time observation means the employee was informed or there was an attempt to inform the employee of the observed violation by a WMATA supervisor as soon as possible, not exceeding 4 hours from the initial observation.)
  • were one of the following specific events:
    • station overrun of more than one door leaf
    • limits of an absolute or permissive block were exceeded
    • red signal violations by train or work equipment
    • wrong side door opening

Railroad Confidential Close Call Reporting

Visit the Railroad Confidential Close Call Reporting Page

As of July 2015, the pilot close call project for railroad operations has closed.

Contact Us



Phone (Confidential Toll-Free Line):

1-888-568-2377 for the WMATA program
1-844-OCS-FRST (1-844-627-3778) for the SafeOCS program

eSubmit (Confidential Close Call Reporting):

Close Call Reporting for WMATA
Near-Miss Reporting System for SafeOCS