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Most Important Safety Improvements Needed To Reduce Accident, Injury Risk Outlined by NTSB

Federal transportation officials indicate the top priorities to improve vehicle safety should focus on eliminating motor vehicle distractions, impaired driving, and increasing implementation of crash avoidance systems in all new vehicles, which will help prevent accidents and minimize injuries. 

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a “Most Wanted List” on February 4, which lays out the agency’s agenda for the next two years, and how to best address issues related to all forms of transportation, including highway, aviation, rail and marine travel.

The list is designed to help identify areas across transportation that could be improved to prevent accidents, minimize injuries and save lives. Seven of the ten items on this year’s list focus on highway transportation, with two exclusively focusing on motor vehicle safety.

The list indicates that DOT wants to focus on the following areas:

  • Eliminating distractions
  • Ending alcohol and other drug impairment
  • Ensuring the safe shipment of hazardous materials
  • Fully implementing positive train control
  • Implementing strategies to reduce speeding-related crashes
  • Improving the safety of aircraft flight operations
  • Increasing implementation of collision avoidance systems in all new highway vehicles
  • Reducing fatigue-related accidents
  • Requiring medical fitness screening and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea
  • Strengthening occupant protection

The list involves multiple safety recommendations for each item, totaling 267 such recommendations in all.

“Tens of thousands of people die in transportation accidents and crashes every year — our neighbors, our coworkers, our schoolmates, our family members. But they don’t have to,” the Most Wanted List Report (PDF) states. “Most of these deaths are completely preventable. With each accident, we learn lessons about safety gaps and make recommendations that, if acted upon, could close these gaps.”

While much of the list is focused on safer roadways, some focus areas cut across numerous forms of transportation. The DOT’s recommendations for eliminating distractions, for example, include suggestions for aviation, highway, marine and railroad improvements.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes every day in the United States due to distracted drivers. All modes of transportation listed under the topic need strengthened policies on the use of portable electronic devices, the agency notes.

However, other focus areas, such as hazardous materials transportation, are limited to solely one or two forms of transportation, like railways and pipelines.

The list serves as a guideline for lawmakers, automobile manufacturers, and regulatory agencies. They will be the ones who will have to put the recommendations into practice through legislation, design changes and industry standards and new regulations.

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