NTSB Press Release
National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
NTSB TARGETS 10 'MOST WANTED' TRANSPORT SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS
May 5, 1998
Washington, DC – The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is
pushing for action on a revised priority agenda aimed at upgrading the
safety of public transportation in the United States.
"Our Most Wanted program aims to highlight the safety
recommendations the Board believes should be acted on as soon as possible
because they have the most potential to improve safety, save lives, and
reduce accidents and injuries," NTSB Chairman Jim Hall said.
At a public meeting, the Safety Board issued an updated "Most Wanted"
list of 10 safety improvement goals covering all modes of transportation:
aviation, highway, rail, marine and pipeline. The Board also declared several
"safety victories" by removing items from the list because of
substantial progress in implementing many of the recommendations.
Issues highlighted on the "Most Wanted" list are:
- Automatic information recording devices. Require adequate
recording devices on all types of vehicles, such as flight data recorders
on aircraft and voyage event recorders on ships. Modern recording devices
do much more than help solve accidents. They are valuable tools in spotting
safety trends and preventing accidents.
- Positive train separation. Mandate the installation of
automated systems to stop trains when crewmembers make signal or speed
mistakes, or are incapacitated. Federal Railroad Administration data show
that more than 1,000 train accidents could have been prevented by positive
train separation systems.
- Human fatigue in transportation operations. Translate
the latest human fatigue research into new, meaningful time and duty-hour
regulations and educational materials for workers in all modes of transportation.
Government and industry have already spent $20 million on human fatigue
- Airport runway incursions. Move forward with current
and new programs aimed at preventing accidents involving aircraft while
they are on the ground at airports. This is vitally important because the
number and rate of runway incursions has shown an alarming four-year increase.
- Youth highway crashes. Toughen and enforce minimum drinking
and driving laws and enact laws mandating a provisional license system
and nighttime restrictions for young novice drivers.
- Excavation damage prevention to underground facilities.
Urge the federal government to increase its role in excavation damage prevention
programs and review of state programs to improve them. Outside damage is
the leading cause of pipeline ruptures.
- Recreational boating safety. Require states to implement
a series of boating safety improvements, educational programs and regulations.
More than 700 people were killed in recreational boating accidents in 1996
and more than 800 the year before. The quick growth of personal watercraft
has been accompanied by an increase in accidents and deaths.
- Highway vehicle occupant protection. Require a series
of safety improvements to vehicle seatbelt, air bag and child restraint
design, installation and usage.
- Airframe structural icing. Revise federal aircraft icing
regulations based on up-to-date research on icing weather conditions. Conduct
research with the goal of developing new on-board systems to detect and
protect aircraft against freezing drizzle.
- Explosive mixtures in fuel tanks on transport category aircraft.
Require design and operational modifications to reduce the potential for
explosive fuel-air mixtures in fuel tanks of large aircraft.
In letters to Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater and other modal
administrators, Hall urged the federal government's regulatory agencies
to implement the "Most Wanted' list items.
Hall also outlined several "safety victories" that prompted
the Board to remove 10 items from last year's list because of positive
action by federal and state safety regulators. "I am convinced that
the Most Wanted list, since it was established in 1990, has had an impact
on upgrading transportation safety and that has allowed the Board to remove
many items from the list," he said.
For example, the NTSB had been urging the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) to require fire detection and suppression systems
in many passenger aircraft cargo holds. Those recommendations were added
to the Most Wanted List last year. The heightened exposure of the issue
and the intense media attention surrounding NTSB's investigation of the
1996 ValuJet accident prompted the FAA to act. In March, the FAA issued
a final rule mandating fire detection and suppression systems in 3,700
passenger and cargo aircraft. As a result, the Board removed that issue
from the list.
Other issues were removed from the list because the NTSB documented
substantial safety progress. Although they are no longer on the priority
list, NTSB continues to monitor these recommendations until action is completed.
Issues removed from the list were:
- Fishing vessel safety. The Board noted progress in fishing
vessel safety and a decline in accident and death rates.
- Aircraft wake vortex turbulence. New aircraft weight
classifications and separation distances behind other jets have been implemented.
- Administrative revocation of drivers' licenses. Forty
states have enacted laws to revoke drivers' licenses for refusing to take
or for failing a chemical test for alcohol.
- School bus safety. Major improvements have been made
in school bus fire safety, emergency exits and school bus design.
- Heavy commercial truck safety. Truck drivers are subject
to more thorough driver records checks, tighter medical standards and medical
- Small passenger vessel safety. The small passenger vessel
industry has developed new safety standards including better safety equipment
and passenger emergency instructions.
- Midair collision avoidance alerts for general aviation aircraft.
More than 60 airport terminals have been upgraded with Mode C intruder
logic – an airborne collision avoidance computer software
- Aircraft pilot background checks. Congress passed legislation
requiring pertinent pilot training records be provided to potential employers
by previous employers.
- Passenger railcar safety. Government regulators and the
rail industry are moving to require better emergency crew training, equipment,
exits and information on passenger rail cars.
For more details on Most Wanted issues, visit NTSB's internet home page.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.