All posts by ntsbgov

Episode 21 – Concan, Texas Investigation

In this episode of Behind-the-Scene @NTSB, we talk with Kenny Bragg and Rafael Marshall, Senior Human Performance Investigators, in the NTSB Office of Highway, about the collision of a pickup truck and medium-size bus, on March 29, 2017, near Concan, Texas. Kenny and Rafael talk about the circumstances of the crash, the probable cause, and the safety recommendations issued to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again.



To learn more about the NTSB investigation of the Concan, Texas collision visit:

To view the witness video of the operation of the pickup truck prior to the Concan, Texas collision visit:


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Good News . . . At Last!

By Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt

Let’s face it: the NTSB isn’t an agency that often has good news to report. As an accident investigation agency, we deal with the hard facts regarding terrible shortcomings in our nation’s transportation system. This week, however, I’m pleased to report some good news.

Best Places to Work 2018

On Wednesday, the Partnership for Public Service released its annual “Best Places to Work in the Federal Government” rankings. The overall rankings are determined by the Best Places to Work employee engagement score, which is calculated using a proprietary formula that looks at responses to the US Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. For the third straight year, NTSB ranked among the top 10 small agencies in the Partnership’s Best Places to Work in Federal Government rankings. We maintained our 2017 rank of number 6 out of 29 small agencies (in 2017, 28 small agencies were assessed). I take great pride in working with the fine men and women of the NTSB who allow this agency to be such a great place to work. That said, our goal is to be even better, and our leadership team is committed to making that happen.

The second piece of good news revolves around a very special recognition for one of our senior leaders. Last evening, NTSB Chief Financial Officer Edward Benthall, Jr, received the prestigious Presidential Rank Award (PRA). Two categories of rank awards are available: “Distinguished,” for leaders who achieved sustained extraordinary accomplishments, and “Meritorious,” for leaders who have achieved sustained Edward Benthall - Presidential Rank Awardaccomplishments. Ed joins a list of only 45 other 2018 Distinguished PRA recipients.

Bestowed by the President of the United States, the PRA is one of the highest awards conferred to Career Senior Executive Service (SES), Senior-Level (SL), and Scientific-Professionals (SP) within the federal government. The review process is extensive, and candidates are vetted with a federal background investigation. Names of the finalist are sent to the White House for final selection.

Ed was recognized for his work to safeguard the NTSB’s financial status and stellar reputation. He and his team have worked tirelessly to ensure that, for the 16th consecutive year, the NTSB received a clean (unmodified) financial audit opinion from outside auditors. When I announced to NTSB employees last week that Ed would receive the PRA this year, Ed brought his team front and center to acknowledge their contributions.

What’s amazing to me is that this is the fourth consecutive year that the NTSB has had a Distinguished PRA recipient. Considering that the Distinguished PRA is only bestowed to fewer than 50 employees government-wide each year, and considering that we have only about 20 SES, SL, and SP employees, this record speaks volumes for the fine caliber and dedication of our employees. With leaders like this, it’s no wonder the NTSB is one of the best places to work in the federal government.

Congratulations NTSB, and congratulations Ed!

Episode 20 – Member Jennifer Homendy

In this episode of Behind-the-Scene @ NTSB, we have a conversation with Board Member Jennifer Homendy. Member Homendy shares with us her passion for transportation safety, her past work to improve rail, pipeline, and hazardous materials safety and the path she has taken to become an NTSB Board Member.



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Episode 19 – Chairman Sumwalt

In this episode of Behind-the-Scene @NTSB, we talk with Chairman Robert Sumwalt about Thanksgiving holiday travel and ways to keep you and your loved ones safe whether traveling by air, land, or sea.

To learn more about the NTSB investigation of the gas explosions and fire in Lawrence, Massachusetts, visit:

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Add a Day of Remembrance for a Balanced Holiday Season

By Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt

Every year, I hear that the holiday season has gotten too long—that holiday music, commercials, and sales begin too early. Traditionally, the season starts on Thanksgiving, the fourth Thursday of November.


I think the season should actually start even earlier this year—on the third Sunday in November, World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. Why? Because to truly give thanks for what we have, we have to imagine losing it. Around the world, about 1.3 million people lose their lives in automobile crashes every year; 20 to 50 million more survive a crash with injuries, many of which are life-altering. Here in the United States, annual traffic deaths number around 37,000—more than 100 a day—and a motor vehicle crash is the single most likely way for a teen to die.


If you’ve lost somebody to a crash, you probably need no special reminder. Your loved one will be missed at the holiday dinner table, on the way to the home of a friend or out-of-town relative, and throughout the holidays. But for the rest of us, the Day of Remembrance is a time to think of those needlessly lost on our roads.

I encourage us all to go beyond remembering those lost in highway crashes, to thinking of victims of transportation accidents in all modes who won’t be joining family and friends this holiday season. Before we give thanks next Thursday, let’s take a moment to remember those who have been lost, and then take steps to make our own holiday travel safer.

By Car

Fatigue, impairment by alcohol and other drugs, and distraction continue to play major roles in highway crashes. Here’s what you can do to keep yourself and those around you safe on the road.

  • If your holiday celebrations involve alcohol, ask a friend or family member to be your designated driver, or call a taxi or ridesharing service.
  • In a crash, seat belts (and proper child restraints) are your best protection. Always make sure that you and all of your passengers are buckled up or buckled in!
  • Make sure to use the right restraint for child passengers, and be sure it’s installed correctly. If you have doubts, ask a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.
  • Make sure you’re well rested! A fatigued driver is just as dangerous as one impaired by alcohol or other drugs.
  • Avoid distractions. In this video, survivor-advocates share their stories of personal loss—and the changes they’re working for now.
  • Don’t take or make calls while driving, even using a hands-free device. Set your navigation system before you start driving. If you’re traveling with others, ask them to navigate.

By Bus or Train

We’ve made recommendations to regulators and industry to improve passenger rail and motorcoach operations and vehicle crashworthiness, but travelers should know what to do in an emergency.

  • Pay attention to safety briefings and know where the nearest emergency exit is. If it’s a window or roof hatch, make sure you know how to use it.
  • If you’re unsure of where the exits are or how to use them, or if you didn’t receive a safety briefing, ask your driver or train conductor to brief you.
  • Always use restraints when they’re available!

By Air or Sea

Airline and water travel have become incredibly safe, but these tips can help keep you and your loved ones safe in an emergency.

  • When flying, make sure that you and your traveling companions have your own seats—even children under age 2.
  • Don’t forget your child’s car seat. The label will usually tell you whether your child car seat is certified for airplane use; the owner’s manual always has this information.
  • If you don’t know the rules for using a child’s car seat on your flight, call the airline and ask what you need to know.
  • Pay close attention to the safety briefing! Airline and marine accidents have become very rare, but you and your family can be safer by being prepared.
  • Whether you’re on an airplane or a boat, know where to find the nearest flotation device.

This holiday season, no matter how you plan to get where you’re going, remember that, for many, this time of year is a time of loss. Honor survivors and remember traffic crash victims by doing your best to make sure you—and those around you—make only happy memories on your holiday travels.

Episode 18 – Graettinger, Iowa Accident Investigation

In this episode of Behind-the-Scene @NTSB, we talk with Mike Hiller, Railroad Accident Investigator, Joe Gordon, Rail Safety Investigator, and Paul Stancil, Hazardous Materials Accident Investigator, in the NTSB Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations, about the derailment of a Union Pacific Railroad ethanol train, on March 10, 2017, near Graettinger, Iowa.

To learn more about the NTSB investigation of the Graettinger, Iowa train derailment visit:

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Episode 17 – Erik Strickland

It’s been one year since we launched our Behind-the-Scene @NTSB podcast.  As we reflect on the last year and the 16 episodes we’ve shared with listeners so far, we decided to sit down and talk with our podcast host, Erik Strickland.

In this episode of Behind-the-Scene @NTSB, Erik Strickland, a transportation safety specialist in the NTSB Office of Safety Recommendations and Communications shares with us his transportation journey from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), to NTSB Safety Advocate and now Senior Advisor to NTSB Member Jennifer Homendy.

Get the latest episode on Apple Podcasts , on Google Play, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast platform.

And find more ways to listen here: