WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reviewed progress and urged further action on its “Most Wanted” list of safety improvements during a public meeting in September.
The NTSB challenged state legislatures and officials to make transportation safety a top “political priority” by enacting and enforcing laws aimed at preventing accidents.
The list urges states to take dozens of actions in six key topics, including requiring booster seats for young children, getting habitually drunk drivers off the road and improving youth highway safety.
In the pupil transportation arena, the list calls for states to implement a comprehensive program to increase school bus safety at highway-rail grade crossings, including installing stop signs, enhancing bus driver training, and requiring noise-reducing switches on buses.
The board said that six states have installed stop signs at crossings, 33 states have enhanced driver training and 16 states now require noise-reducing switches (to mute the radio, heater and air conditioner) on newly purchased school buses. NTSB Chairman Mark Rosenker said that while progress on the Most Wanted list has been made by many states, more needs to done. “Every single one of our recommendations is important and when implemented will improve safety.” Rosenker said.
In other news, the NTSB released preliminary figures showing an increase in transportation fatalities in the United States last year.
Deaths from transportation accidents in the nation in 2005 totaled 45,636, up from 45,092 in 2004.
“It is very disturbing to see transportation fatalities rising,” Rosenker said. “In all modes, but especially on our roads and highways, we need a concerted effort by government, industry and the traveling public to establish a strong downward trend in the number of fatal accidents.”
Of all modes — highway, aviation, rail, marine and pipeline — highway transportation accounts for the majority of fatalities. The number of highway deaths rose from 42,836 in 2004 to 43,443 in 2005.
The data, which were collected by the U.S. Department of Transportation, did not specify a number of fatalities in school buses. A general “Buses” category showed an increase of deaths from 42 in 2004 to 58 in 2005.
For more on the NTSB, see “Plugging Holes in Transportation Safety,” a Q&A with the agency’s highway safety head, Bruce Magladry.