The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently released its 2014 Most Wanted List, which sets forth the Top 10 advocacy and awareness priorities for the agency in 2014. A review of this list gives insight into the issues which are in the forefront at the agency.
New to the list in 2014 is mass transit. NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman noted that the traveling public relies on a safe and efficient transportation system, yet, every year, the NTSB sees over 35,000 fatalities. The agency’s hope is to take steps today so that more people make it home tonight. Helicopter operations are also a newcomer to this list, as the civil helicopter industry continues to see overwhelming growth and demand for emergency medical services, law enforcement support, electronic newsgathering, offshore oil and gas support and a variety of other applications. Between January 2003 and May 2013, the NTSB is aware of 1470 helicopter accidents, with 477 fatalities and 274 serious injuries. A third newcomer to the 2014 list is occupant safety, which involves increasing the use of available occupant protection systems and improving crashworthiness to preserve survivable space, which can mean the difference between life and death. The final newcomer to the list is passenger vessel safety. NTSB accident investigations involving passenger vessels have revealed in numerous cases that the cause of an accident was not the failure of the vessel but the lack of good safety practices that led to the loss of life and injuries.
The other six placeholders on this most wanted list include distraction, fire safety, general aviation, pipeline safety, positive train control and substance impaired driving. The NTSB’s investigations and safety studies in all modes of transportation underscore the dangers of using portable electronic devices while operating a car, train, plane or marine vessel. The NTSB has issued numerous recommendations where fire was caused by power sources, as well as recommendations on survivability in the event of a fire, and improving fire detection and suppression systems. A frequent cause or contributing factor to general aviation accidents is a failure to recognize or take appropriate steps to avoid hazardous weather. 2 1/2 million miles of pipeline crisscross the nation, delivering oil and gasoline to consumers, and the NTSB is focusing on pipeline safety in 2014. The NTSB has long been calling for positive train control, which works by monitoring the location and movement of trains, then slowing or stopping a train that is not being operated in accordance with signal systems or operating rules. In the last 10 years, the NTSB has completed investigations of 25 train accidents that killed 65, injured over 1100 and caused millions of dollars in damages, all of which could have been prevented or mitigated by PTC. There were more than 10,000 traffic deaths in the United States in 2012 involving an alcohol impaired driver, and the NTSB has made substance impaired driving a priority for the coming year.
This top 10 most wanted list of transportation improvements for 2014 reflects the priorities of the National Transportation Safety Board in the coming year.