The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report regarding aviation accidents in 2011. The report showed a mild increase in the total number of general aviation accidents when compared to 2010. Due to an increase in the total flight hours, however, the rate of accidents actually decreased last year. In addition to showing fewer accidents per flight hour, the report showed that, for the second year in a row, there were zero fatal accidents involving U.S. airlines or commuter air traffic.
Highway-rail grade crossings are intersections where roads cross railroad tracks on the same level or grade. These intersections are the site of more than 3,000 accidents every year, including roughly 700 semi truck accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has created a new initiative designed to help truck drivers and other commercial vehicle operators avoid these terrible accidents. If every commercial driver followed the precautions laid out by the FMCSA, there would be far fewer accidents and fewer fatalities at highway-rail grade crossings.
Sleep apnea is a health condition that prevents its sufferers from getting sufficient restful sleep. When it strikes a truck driver, sleep apnea can make it difficult to get enough sleep to keep up with a typical commercial trucking schedule. The result can be an increase in truck accidents caused by drowsy driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has therefore decided to recommend stricter standards for commercial carriers in identifying and addressing the problem of sleep apnea. The FMCSA is concerned that the current efforts to evaluate and treat drivers for sleep apnea are insufficient.
The auto industry has recently come under fire from national safety groups for employing technology that can distract a driver while the vehicle is in use. New research has pointed to a problem that could increase the danger to children if a car accident occurs. Many of the top-selling cars of the last several years make it difficult to properly install child safety seats. Manufacturers are failing to account for child restraints when designing passenger seats.
Ever since cell phones became popular almost 20 years ago, Chicago residents have heard about the dangers of using them while driving. However, after almost two decades of research, there is still debate as to whether cell phones increase the likelihood of a serious car or truck accident. In addition, there is data that suggests the use of a hands-free device instead of handheld devices does nothing to increase driving safety.
The Federal Aviation Administration is expecting substantial changes in the industry over the next 20 years. The task of preventing aviation accidents is likely to get more complicated if the FAA projections about air travel are accurate. The FAA projects that air traffic will nearly double by 2032. This increase in traffic will put additional pressure on the air traffic controllers. To combat this, the FAA is pushing its new, satellite based air traffic control system known as NextGen. This system would replace the land based radar system currently used by air traffic controllers.