Each year, the NTSB releases its list of the ‘Most Wanted,’ a list that highlights the agency’s top safety concerns. This year, the NTSB says distracted driving is at the top of the list.
“Transportation is safer than ever, but with 35,000 annual fatalities and hundreds of thousands of injuries, we can, and must, do better,” said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. “The Most Wanted List is a roadmap to improving safety for all of our nation’s travelers.”
There are six new issue areas — distraction, fire safety, infrastructure integrity, pipeline safety, positive train control and motor vehicle collision avoidance technologies.
“We’re releasing the list now so it is available to policymakers at the state and federal levels as well as industry groups as they craft their priorities for 2013,” Hersman said. “We want to highlight the results of our investigations and ensure that safety has a seat at the table when decisions are made.”
The NTSB’s 2013 Most Wanted List of transportation priorities includes:
- Improve Safety of Airport Surface Operations
- Preserve the Integrity of Transportation Infrastructure
- Enhance Pipeline Safety
- Implement Positive Train Control Systems
- Eliminate Substance-Impaired Driving-“There are numerous variables on why people use substances and how these substances affect driving. Eliminating substance-impaired driving requires a comprehensive solution, starting with basic concepts for changing behavior. General deterrence encourages the general population not to engage in the dangerous behavior in the first place. It includes such measures as high visibility enforcement and administrative license revocation. Specific deterrence is used after a person is caught and focuses on preventing repeat behavior. Examples include fines and jail terms, but in cases where the impaired driver has a substance-abuse problem, neither fines nor incarceration addresses the root cause of recidivism.”
- Improve the Safety of Bus Operations
- Eliminate Distraction in Transportation– “Portable electronic devices that do not directly support the task at hand have no place in vehicles, planes, trains, and vessels. States and regulators can set the proper tone by banning the nonessential use of such devices in transportation. Companies should develop and vigorously enforce policies to eliminate distractions. Manufacturers can assist by developing technology that disables the devices when in reach of operators. Accident investigators at the Federal, state, and local levels should also incorporate in their protocols a system for checking whether the nonessential use of portable electronic devices led to accidents; such information is essential to better identify safety issues and where to dedicate resources to stop this dangerous behavior.”
- Improve Fire Safety in Transportation
- Improve General Aviation Safety
- Mandate Motor Vehicle Collision Avoidance Technologies– “There are technologies that can work with the driver to improve driver reaction time. Lane departure warning, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, and electronic stability control have all been proven to aid drivers when they are faced with unexpected conditions, particularly when traveling at highway speeds or when operating larger commercial vehicles that require greater stopping distances. Other systems, such as tire pressure monitoring, onboard monitoring (for commercial drivers), and speed-limiting technology, can warn drivers of imminent threats or diminish the possibility of encountering dangerous conditions.”These technologies are available today in many vehicles. However, they are options that a vehicle owner can add, and some technologies are not even required to meet performance standards. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration should establish performance standards where still needed and mandate that these technologies be included as standard equipment in cars and commercial motor vehicles alike. Their full life-saving and crash-avoidance potential will not be realized until supported by federal rulemaking and related standards.”