Unveiling NTSB’s 2016 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements

By Chairman Christopher A. Hart

NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart announces the issue areas on the 2016 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. (left to right: Member Robert Sumwalt, Chairman Christopher Hart, Vice Chairman T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, Member Earl Weener)

Transportation in the United States is safer than ever before. Nevertheless, each year tens of thousands still lose their lives, and hundreds of thousands are injured, in accidents in transportation.

The NTSB’s mission is to investigate accidents, determine their probable causes, and make safety recommendations which, if implemented, can save lives and prevent or mitigate injuries. We advocate for these life-saving changes through the NTSB Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements.

Earlier today the NTSB unveiled its 2016 Most Wanted List. The Most Wanted List covers improvements that we need in all modes of transportation, and includes:

These are by no means the only important transportation safety issues, but these are the areas where we can use our limited resources most effectively to improve safety.

This year, we are highlighting five new or reinstated areas: Reduce Fatigue-Related Accidents, Improve Rail Transit Safety Oversight, Promote Availability of Collision Avoidance Technologies in Highway Vehicles, Expand the Use of Recorders to Enhance Transportation Safety, and Strengthen Occupant Protection.

Four areas remain unchanged from our 2015 list: Disconnect From Deadly Distractions, End Substance Impairment in Transportation, Prevent Loss of Control in Flight in General Aviation, and Require Medical Fitness for Duty.

And one of our issue areas for 2016, Promote Completion of Rail Safety Initiatives, adds a sense of urgency to two areas for rail safety improvements that appeared on our 2015 list: rail tank car safety and positive train control. There are timelines for rail safety initiatives in both these areas.

But industry missed a 2015 deadline for implementation of PTC, and replacement of all DOT-111 tank-cars in the transportation of hazardous liquids is not called for until 2025. The rail industry needs to make every day count. The next tragedy that could be prevented by PTC, or the next explosion of a DOT-111 tank car, could come at any time.

The NTSB 2016 Most Wanted List is our roadmap from lessons learned to lives saved. It establishes our priorities for 2016 in a way that is accessible to industry, regulators, and the public alike. We will organize concerted efforts to secure implementation of our safety recommendations regarding these ten issues.

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