NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


March 15, 2005

Washington, D.C. - On the occasion of its 30th anniversary as a separate, independent agency, the National Transportation Safety Board today issued a new publication that examines the safety improvements that have resulted from over three decades of transportation accident investigations.

Titled "NTSB: Lessons Learned and Lives Saved," the publication surveys safety measures inspired by NTSB recommendations in all modes of transportation - aviation, railroad, highway, marine, and pipeline and hazardous materials.

We firmly believe "that out of tragedy, good must come," said Board Chairman Ellen Engelman Conners. "We try to learn as much as possible from each accident investigation and make practical, focused recommendations aimed at saving lives, reducing injuries, and preventing similar accidents in the future."

The NTSB opened its doors on April 1, 1967. Initially, although operationally independent, it relied on the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for funding and administrative support. In 1975, after passage the previous year of the Independent Safety Board Act, all organizational ties to DOT and its modal agencies were severed.

Thirty years on, the NTSB has issued more than 12,000 recommendations to over 2,000 recipients in the transportation community - the regulatory and private sectors of the various transportation modes. Since the Board does not have rulemaking or enforcement powers, recommendations are the primary tools used to pursue safety improvements.

The Board's reputation for impartiality, technical competence, and for careful examination of the facts and circumstances of an accident has enabled it to achieve an 80-percent-plus acceptance rate for its recommendations.

The list of significant NTSB safety recommendation subjects include:

Aviation - Windshear alert and detection equipment upgrades and training, anti-collision devices on airliners and cargo airplanes, advanced ground proximity warning systems, fail- safe thrust reverse systems on jet engines, and measures for dealing with aircraft icing and structural fatigue;

Railroad - Two-way end of train devices to prevent runaway trains, passenger car safety upgrades (stronger seats, impact-resistant windows, emergency window exits, flammability standards, smoke detectors, emergency lighting), light rail and transit car standards, tank car structural integrity, emergency notification systems, and human fatigue;

Highway - Design changes for automobile airbags, school bus upgrades (body strength, window exits, roof hatches, rollover and fuel tank protections), truck driver hours of service, fitting stations for child seat installation, truck brake systems, and adjustable anchorages for shoulder belts;

Marine - Fire safety upgrades on cruise ships, improved traffic management services on major waterways, emergency radio beacons, life rafts and survival suits for commercial fishing vessels, voyage data recorders, and tougher boating while intoxicated laws;

Pipeline/Hazmat - Measures for prevention of excavation damage, more comprehensive inspection of hazardous liquid and gas transmission lines, excess flow valves, one call accident notification centers, and public information campaigns regarding dangers of gas leaks.

While celebrating the Board's 30-year milestone and its record of conducting objective, independent investigations, Chairman Engleman Conners noted that the NTSB's work was not finished. "The Board will continue to build on its safety history and aggressively advocate adoption and implementation of our recommendations," she said. "We are committed to ensuring that the hard-earned lessons derived from our investigations are not forgotten."

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



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.