AASHTO Journal, 18 November 2016
The National Transportation Safety Board’s latest “most wanted list” of safety measures focuses heavily on improving safety by altering the crash-inducing behaviors of vehicle drivers and other users of the nation’s highway, air and rail networks.
The board said its top-rated safety change is to “eliminate distractions,” at a time when state departments of transportation and others have targeted distracted driving as a major cause of highway crashes that result in deaths and injuries.
Its next-highest goal is to reduce fatigue-related accidents, which is another behavior issue that threatens safety on highways, in the airspace, on trains and is transit systems.
The board said it was also switching from annual lists to a two-year cycle of recommendations, though it will monitor the response to this list at the one-year mark.
“We will take stock at the one-year mark, note what progress has been made and decide what additional improvements are needed,” the announcement said.
Among other top 10 NTSB goals is to end alcohol and other drug impairment in transportation, increase the implementation of collision avoidance technologies in various modes to let mechanized systems take safety steps when humans fail to, expand the use of electronic recorders such as truck drivers’ logbooks to assure drivers have proper rest periods and require medical fitness of those who operate transportation equipment.
The safety board also said it wanted to see action in general aviation to prevent loss of control in flight, improve rail transit safety oversight.
NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart and other board members announced their improvements list together, but the announcement also cautioned that the agency cannot require other agencies to take such actions.
That means, the NTSB said, “that not all of them will be implemented.” Instead, it tries to build public pressure for such measures, using lessons learned from NTSB accident investigations to propose actions that could “reduce property damage, prevent injuries and save lives in all modes of transportation.”