NTSB Reviews 'Most Wanted List' of Safety Improvements

At a public meeting yesterday, the National Transportation Safety Board reviewed its "Most Wanted List" of safety improvements, a list established in 1990 for the purpose of focusing attention on critical changes needed by federal agencies to reduce accidents and save lives.

Half of the 44 safety recommendations in the 15 federal issue areas on the list were issued to the Federal Aviation Administration, with the rest going to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Railroad Administration, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, and the U.S. Coast Guard.

One of the two new issue areas added to the list were collision prevention through enhanced vehicle safety technology, which NTSB Chairman Mark V. Rosenker called "one of the most encouraging developments in transportation safety in a very long time." Rosenker said that innovations like collision warning systems have "opened the door to the possibility of major advances in motor vehicle safety." The NTSB has asked NHTSA to act more quickly in setting performance standards for CWS and adaptive cruise control systems in new commercial and passenger vehicles.

The board also voted to add human fatigue in railroad operations as a new issue area on the list, asking that adjustments to crewmember work schedules be revised to reduce the likelihood of train crews operating equipment in a fatigued condition. "Human fatigue has played a role in many rail accidents in the past few years, some of them fatal," Rosenker said. "The manner in which crewmembers are scheduled should be reformed to reduce the likelihood in which loaded trains, often weighing thousands of tons, are being controlled by fatigued operators."

In addition to pinpointing important safety issues, the Most Wanted List also rates agencies by the timeliness with which they act to implement the recommendations. For further information, including the texts of the specific safety recommendations in each area, go to www.ntsb.gov.

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