NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


NTSB CHAIRMAN NOTES PROGRESS IN REDUCING OPERATOR FATIGUE BUT MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE

March 29, 2004

Washington, D.C. -- National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Ellen Engleman-Conners today praised the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for making progress in reducing fatigue related accidents by issuing updated hours- of-service regulations last year. The revised regulations limit the number of hours that truck drivers can operate and set minimum off-duty periods for drivers to obtain much needed rest. The Chairman's remarks come at the beginning of National Sleep Awareness Week (March 29 - April 4), during which the NTSB hopes to raise public awareness of its ongoing concern about fatigue related safety issues.

Chairman Engleman-Conners noted that the new hours-of- service regulations represent "an important first step in reducing fatigue related accidents on our nation's highways," but acknowledged that there is more work to be done. She challenged other modal administrations to implement Safety Board recommendations and make necessary changes to hours-of-service regulations to ensure that all vehicle operators receive enough rest.

Tired vehicle operators are not a new concern for the Safety Board. Human fatigue and hours of work have been on the Board's Most Wanted list since its inception in 1990. As early as 1972 the Board made recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration concerning pilot rest and duty limitations. In 1989 the Board issued a series of inter- modal safety recommendations to the Department of Transportation calling for aggressive federal programs to address fatigue issues in all sectors of the transportation industry. Many of those recommendations remain open and in some cases have been classified, "open unacceptable action."

During National Sleep Awareness week the NTSB Chairman called on the DOT and the transportation industry to address the Board's remaining outstanding recommendations. Chairman Engleman-Conners also noted the need for enforcement of new hours-of-service regulations. "Rules without enforcement are useless. We must all work together to aggressively pursue the safety of our transportation system. Everyone, whether a pilot, truck driver, ship's officer, train engineer or private citizen should make sure they are well rested before operating a vehicle."

In an effort to further highlight and share information on the significant role fatigue plays in transportation safety, the Safety Board has developed a two- day course on the subject to be delivered in Fall 2004 at the NTSB Academy.

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100

 

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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.