The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has released a new list of the top ten “most critical transportation issues that need to be addressed to improve safety and save lives.” The Board noted that it began issuing an annual Most Wanted List in 1990. The new posting is the first one produced under a revised format developed over the past several months ”to modernize and streamline the list.”

The 10 broad issues on the list will be “highlighted” by NTSB in its advocacy efforts during the next year. "The NTSB's ability to influence transportation safety depends on our ability to communicate and advocate for changes," said NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman. "The Most Wanted List is the most powerful tool we have to highlight our priorities."

The “issue areas” on the new Most Wanted List are:

  • Promote pilot and air traffic controller professionalism
  • Address human fatigue
  • Promote teen driving safety
  • Improve general aviation safety
  • Improve motorcycle safety
  • Require safety management systems
  • Improve runway safety
  • Address alcohol-impaired driving
  • Improve bus occupant safety
  • Require image and onboard data recorders

The issue that arguably most directly concern trucking is “human fatigue.” Regarding that, NTSB has stated that fatigue-countering mechanisms must include:

  • Science-based, data-driven hours-of-service limits, particularly for professional drivers, pilots, mechanics, and air traffic controllers.
  • The medical oversight system must recognize the dangers of sleep-related medical impairments, such as obstructive sleep apnea, and incorporate mechanisms for identifying and treating affected individuals.
  • Employers should also (1) establish science-based fatigue management systems that involve all parties (employees, management, interest groups) in developing environments to help identify the factors that cause fatigue, and (2) monitor operations to detect the presence of fatigue before it becomes a problem. Because “powering through” fatigue is simply not an acceptable option, fatigue management systems need to allow individuals to acknowledge fatigue without jeopardizing their employment.

The American Truking Assns. has already gone on record “commending” NTSB for its newest Most Wanted List. ATA presdinet & CEO Gov. Bill Graves said that in partifular, he was “pleased to see the Board and ATA share some of the same views on ways to make highways safer for all motorists.

“ATA’s progressive safety agenda calls for tools to eliminate drunk driving such as ignition interlock devices for repeat offenders and stronger open container laws, so we were pleased to see that Addressing Alcohol Impaired Driving is on NTSB’s revised Most Wanted List,” he continued in a statement released this morning.

“Also, ATA shares many of the observations Board Member Rosekind made on driver fatigue,” pointed out Graves. “ As Dr. Rosekind noted that hours-of-service regulations must be science-based and that, hours of service regulations alone – though necessary – are an insufficient solution. “

According to Graves, ATA “has long called for more effective measures to address driver fatigue, such as development of fatigue management plans and driver sleep disorder screening programs. Most recently, ATA members adopted a policy supporting a federal mandate of electronic logging devices to monitor hours of service for truck drivers.

“We look forward to working with NTSB on ways to further improve highway safety and urge the Board to prioritize its efforts on the most prevalent causes of crashes including speeding and other problem driver behaviors,” he added.