National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
Washington, D.C. - The National Transportation Safety Board today issued its list of "Most Wanted" safety recommendations for 2003, adding two new issue areas focused on highway safety.
The Board, drawing on a 30-day review of the effectiveness of NTSB safety advocacy efforts, also directed NTSB staff to institute changes in the "Most Wanted" process. Since its introduction in 1990, the "Most Wanted" list has been updated annually, with the recommendations selected receiving intense Safety Board follow-up during the year.
"The new 'Most Wanted' list reflects the NTSB's increased commitment to improving safety on our highways," said NTSB Chairman Ellen G. Engleman. "The fact that we suffer almost 43,000 road fatalities each year in this country is both tragic and unacceptable. It is a problem area crying out for more attention," she said.
Reflecting its concerns about highway safety, the Board added recommendations relating to hard core drinking drivers to the "Most Wanted" list. Studies have shown that hard core drinking drivers (repeat offenders with prior driving- while-intoxicated convictions or those arrested with a high blood alcohol concentration) pose an increased risk of crashes and are over-represented in fatal crashes.
Alcohol-related accidents accounted for 17,419 road deaths in 2002, or 41 percent of the total for the year. While hard core drinking drivers constitute less than one percent of all drivers on the road, they are involved in about 27 percent of fatal highway accidents.
The Board also added to the "Most Wanted" list recommendations that would ensure that medically unfit drivers are not allowed behind the wheel of a commercial (motor coach/ truck) vehicle. NTSB accident investigations have uncovered serious flaws in the medical certification process for commercial drivers.
Other highway-related issues -- commercial truck and bus safety, primary seatbelt enforcement laws, teenage driving, child occupant safety -- were examined by the Board and current recommendations in these areas were retained on the "Most Wanted" list. The Board believes that action on these recommendations would substantially reduce the accident toll on the nation's roads.
In addition, the Board reviewed progress on recommendations in other key problem areas, including aircraft center wing tank explosions, airport runway incursions/ground collisions, airframe structural icing, fatigue/hours of work policy, automatic recording devices, positive train control systems, marine post-accident alcohol/drug testing, and recreational boating safety. Some recommendations in these areas were closed because of acceptable actions taken; others were retained on the list for 2003.
Noting that the "Most Wanted" list has been a useful tool in promoting transportation safety, Chairman Engleman said the Board conducted a 30-day review to see if it could be more effective in getting recommendations accepted. "Issuing safety recommendations alone is not sufficient," she said. "Implementation of the recommendations is what will make a real difference."
Consequently, the Board directed NTSB staff: to schedule "Most Wanted" Board meetings to better coincide with Congressional and state legislative sessions; to closely track the timeliness of responses to recommendations; and to develop intra-agency advocacy teams and detailed work/event plans for "Most Wanted" issue areas.
The NTSB's "Most Wanted" list and a progress report on the implementation of specific safety recommendations can be found on the Board's web site at http://www.ntsb.gov.
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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.