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Transportation Expert:

NTSB's Top Ten Most Wanted List of Safety Improvements 2017


By John Ross


 Transportation Trucking Forensics Expert


The 2017 NTSB Top Ten Most Wanted Safety Improvements


Established in 1967, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency that investigates all types of transportation accidents, determines their probable cause, and recommends ways to prevent them from happening again. The NTSB is charged with investigating all civil aviation accidents in the United States as well as significant accidents in other modes of transportation, including highway, marine, rail, pipeline and hazardous materials.


National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)


The NTSB’s work has been called by some the “gold standard” of accident investigations worldwide.

Every year, tens of thousands of people die in transportation related accidents and crashes. According to the NTSB, most of these deaths are completely preventable.

Each year the NTSB publishes their “MOST WANTED LIST”.  It is no surprise that digital technology is listed both as helping increase safety but also increasing distraction.

Here is this year’s top ten list:

1) Increase Implementation of Collision Avoidance Technologies

Collision avoidance technologies affect highway as well as rail transportation. These technologies include: collision warning and automated emergency braking systems in highway vehicles as well as automated positive train control in trains. As the NTSB says: “These technologies are available today. They should be implemented today.”

2) Ensure the Safe Shipment of Hazardous Materials

Hazardous material transportation is increasing. From flammable liquids to lithium ion batteries in cell phones, these materials must be transported safely. Flammable liquids are relatively easy to monitor. However, the Lithium Ion batteries are more difficult as they contain flammable materials as well, just in a common compact form. They are the most popular battery in portable devices, and are more difficult to regulate. For instance, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration banned the Samsung Note 7 cell phone from all U.S. flights when a high number of these phones exploded due to a battery problem.

3) Prevent Loss of Control in Flight in General Aviation

The NTSB estimates that about half of all general aviation accidents are due to the loss of control in flight. Training is the NTSB’s method to solve this type of crash. According to the agency, the additional flight training should include: distraction avoidance, stall avoidance, stall management and dealing with inclement weather. In addition, the agency says that the implementation of technology can help these two issues.

4) Improve Rail Transit Safety Oversight

The NTSB says: “Without changes in public transit system oversight, accidents will continue to happen.” The agency would like to improve monitoring of rail systems which will enhance safety by preventing small problems from becoming large problems.

5) End Alcohol and Other Drug Impairment in Transportation

Drug and alcohol impairment are still high on the NTSB’s list. This item affects rail, aviation and highway transportation. The NTSB points to marijuana decriminalization, increasing use of synthetic drugs, as well as a significant rise in in over-the-counter and prescription medication abuse as increasing the impairment of vehicle operators.

6) Reduce Fatigue-Related Accidents

Fatigue in vehicle operators are found in all types of transportation. While the NTSB singles out drivers and commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators, the NTSB indicates that this also affects rail and marine vehicle operators as well as safety professionals.

7) Require Medical Fitness

The agency would like to see more government regulations along with better oversight by companies of their employees. The agency believes that medical fitness should also be a personal responsibility of all transportation professionals.

8) Eliminate Distractions

Distraction of all types takes the vehicle operator’s attention away from their primary task of safely operating the vehicle. Distractions are on the rise in all forms of transportation. Cell phones are ubiquitous and available to all types of operators. Highway vehicles have increasing distractions. In passenger vehicles, infotainment systems are becoming standard in many vehicles. In commercial motor vehicles, infotainment systems as well as telematics systems with communications abilities also can distract the operator.

9) Strengthen Occupant Protection

While the NTSB calls for more survivable occupant space, it also calls for increased seat belt use in highway vehicles, trains, and planes. The agency calls for better restraints for young children, which it believes is key to surviving a crash. Projecting forward, the agency indicates that safety improvements can prevent occupants that survive the initial crash from dying from fire or debris impact.

10) Expand Recorder Use to Enhance Safety

The NTSB would like to expand data recorder implementation. Black boxes are in all types of commercial airlines. However, while the implementation of these modules is increasing in passenger vehicles, the agency would like to see them widely implemented in all forms of transportation. These devices from Event Data Recorders (EDR) in passenger vehicles to Engine Control Units (ECU) and Engine Control Modules (ECM) in commercial vehicles increase the amount of information which can be collected and analyzed after a crash. This type of data analysis can greatly increase the use of data to increase safety.

Some previous year’s lists may be found on the Evidence Solutions’ website by our Transportation Experts Here.

Many of these items have been on the NTSB’s top ten list for several years.

The NTSB hopes to influence not only government regulators, but also the general public and companies who are in the transportation industry with this list. In short, the agency says: “The MOST WANTED LIST is our road map from lessons learned to lives saved. We urge lawmakers to adopt lifesaving solutions, industry to implement safety technologies and programs, and every American to learn more and take personal responsibility where they can to control their own outcomes.”


By John Ross


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