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NTSB Updates 'Most Wanted List' of Safety Improvements

November 15, 2016, by David Cullen - Also by this author

Image: NTSB
Image: NTSB

The National Transportation Safety Board’s latest “Most Wanted List” of safety improvements contains no big surprises compared to the one issued last year. NTSB also announced it has transitioned to issuing the list every two years; thus this new one is the 2017-18 edition

There are two notable changes from the 2016 list. The first is that “Promote the Completion of Rail Safety Initiatives,” which last year chiefly referred to implementing Positive Train Control, does not appear again this year. But the 2017-18 list changed from “promote” to “increase” the NTSB’s stance on the implementation of collision-avoidance technologies. Under that new heading, the board states that “Technologies such as collision warning and autonomous emergency braking in highway vehicles and positive train control in trains will result in fewer accidents, fewer injuries, and fewer lives lost.”

Added to this year’s list is “Ensure the Safe Shipment of Hazardous Materials.” NTSB noted that increased volumes of hazardous materials, especially flammable liquids, are moving by rail and that expanded lithium battery use "poses a threat" to airplanes.

NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said at the National Press Club on Nov. 14 that the list's new two-year cycle will “help to focus our advocacy efforts (and your coverage) on sustained progress. We will take stock at the one-year mark, note what progress has been made, and decide what additional improvements are needed.”

Here is NTSB’s 2017-18 Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements:

  • Eliminate Distractions
  • Reduce Fatigue-Related Accidents
  • Prevent Loss of Control in Flight in General Aviatio
  • Improve Rail Transit Safety Oversight
  • End Alcohol and Other Drug Impairment in Transportation
  • Increase Implementation of Collision Avoidance Technologies
  • Expand Recorder Use to Enhance Safety
  • Require Medical Fitness
  • Strengthen Occupant Protection
  • Ensure the Safe Shipment of Hazardous Materials

Hart pointed out that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that highway fatalities rose by over 7% from 2014-2015 and that “worse yet, early estimates show a 10.4% increase in motor vehicle deaths for the first half of 2016 vs. the first half of 2015. Tragically, for the first time since 2008, more than 35,000 people died on our roads.”

He called this trend “a reminder that safety is not a destination, but a continuing journey, and our efforts to improve safety must never stop.” It takes a concerted and continuing effort by industry, government, and private citizens to save lives.

According to Hart, in areas in which progress is being made, NTSB is “pushing to continue the progress” and where the board has seen setbacks, it is “pushing for improvements that, if implemented, have the potential to move the needle once again in the correct direction.”

Related: Highway Deaths Climbed 7.2% in 2015

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