Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board
2013 Most Wanted List Press Conference
National Press Club
Washington, DC - November 14, 2012
(As Prepared for Delivery)


Good morning! My name is Debbie Hersman, and it is my privilege to serve as Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

Let me introduce my fellow Board Members: Vice Chairman Christopher Hart, Member Robert Sumwalt, Member Mark Rosekind and Member Earl Weener.

Today, we are here to announce our 2013 Most Wanted List. We're releasing the list now because we know transportation will be a big part of the conversation in the 113th Congress and in upcoming sessions in state houses from Juneau to Augusta and everywhere in between.

We want to highlight our priorities and help assure that safety has a seat at the table.

Since the NTSB was created in 1967, we have issued almost 14,000 safety recommendations, and behind each one are the names and faces of lives lived and lives lost.

The Most Wanted List is dynamic. Each year, ten crucial areas are showcased. The changes to the list recognize progress made or acknowledge that there are other areas ripe for change in a given year.

Here's a timely analogy: Think of a kitchen where Thanksgiving dinner is being prepared. Some pots — or safety areas — need attention right this moment while other safety areas, or pots, are put on the back burner.

And, while those back-burner topics are simmering and still have our attention — and might need more later — our new Most Wanted List directs attention to those hot issues boiling in the front.

Over the years, the list has included a range of areas — from fishing vessels to fuel tanks and from child safety to commercial trucks.

Since our last Most Wanted List revision, we have seen meaningful progress.

Take, for example, fatigue, which has been on the list since its inception in 1990. You won't see it this year, because the Department of Transportation has issued a new flight-and-duty time rule for airline pilots, an updated hours-of-service rule for commercial truck drivers and a final rule on hours of service for employees providing commuter and intercity rail passenger transportation.

While we would have liked to see cargo pilots included in the FAA rule, much was done to address our recommendations. But, just like those pots on the back burner, you can bet we will keep an eye on fatigue.

Another issue where we have seen progress is teen driver safety. Today, thanks to the Most Wanted List and a host of advocacy efforts, every state has enacted some form of graduated driver licensing. Last year, MAP-21 included an incentive-grant program for stronger graduated driver licensing laws.

However, driving remains the most dangerous thing our young people do. So we continue to advocate for safety improvements, such as passenger or cell-phone restrictions in the distraction area.

It is true that transportation is safer than ever, but with 35,000 annual fatalities and hundreds of thousands of injuries, we can, and must, do better.

That's why we have the Most Wanted List. It is a roadmap to improving safety for all of our nation's travelers.

Here's a brief video on the 2013 list.

As you saw, the new Most Wanted List covers all transportation modes. There are six new issue areas — distraction, fire safety, infrastructure integrity, pipeline safety, positive train control and motor vehicle collision avoidance technologies.

The six areas that we moved to the back burner, but are still watching, include the two issues I already mentioned — fatigue and teen driver safety — as well as motorcycle safety, pilot and air traffic controller professionalism, safety management systems and vehicle recorders.

Now, we'd be delighted to take your questions. Since each Board member has two safety advocacy areas, I'll serve as moderator.