WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Wednesday released its 2013 Most Wanted List, prioritizing such issues as eliminating distracted driving.
"Transportation is safer than ever, but with 35,000 annual fatalities and hundreds of thousands of injuries, we can, and must, do better," NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said. "The Most Wanted List is a roadmap to improving safety for all of our nation's travelers."
Hersman went on to say that the NTSB is releasing the list now so it is available to policymakers at the state and federal levels as well as industry groups as they set their priorities for next year.
"We want to highlight the results of our investigations and ensure that safety has a seat at the table when decisions are made," she added.
The list covers all transportation modes. There are six new issue areas: distraction, fire safety, infrastructure integrity, pipeline safety, positive train control and motor vehicle collision avoidance technologies.
Distraction was the cause of multiple accidents investigated by the agency in recent years, including accidents involving school buses.
The agency said that distraction in transportation did not start with the advent of the cell phone and other portable electronic devices, but it noted that these devices that do not directly support the task at hand have no place in vehicles, planes, trains and vessels.
NTSB also said that states and regulators can set the proper tone by banning the nonessential use of these devices in transportation, and it said that companies should develop and enforce policies to eliminate distractions. Additionally, since young drivers are more likely to use portable electronic devices behind the wheel, laws, education and enforcement efforts should place emphasis on curbing the use of these devices by young drivers.
In discussing distracted driving, the agency cited an accident in Gray Summit, Mo., involving two school buses, where two people were killed and numerous others were injured.
Another priority on the 2013 Most Wanted list is improving the safety of bus operations — specifically, motorcoach operations. NTSB said that an important step to improving safety is ensuring that professional motorcoach drivers are qualified. For example, bus operators should review a longer, more comprehensive history during the recruitment/hiring process and use video event recorder information to assess on-the-job performance.
For more information on the 2013 Most Wanted list, go here.
Other news related to NTSB:
• NTSB calls for speed limiters on trucks, buses
• NTSB cites driver fatigue, lax oversight in fatal crash