The National Transportation Safety Board has released its list of the 10 areas in which it will be focusing its advocacy in 2014. The list includes the areas the NTSB most wants to address to reduce transportation accidents. Three of the areas of focus which are likely to involve changes by the general public are: eliminating distraction in transportation, eliminating substance-impaired driving, and strengthening occupant protection in transportation. Each of these areas has the potential to save thousands of lives by preventing car accidents or improving a person's chances of escaping an accident without serious injury.
The NTSB press release referred to the increase in distracted driving resulting from the use of personal electronic devices as a "cultural epidemic." It reports seeing a "disturbing growth" in the number of accidents caused by distracted operators. Distraction is a known problem in every field of transportation involving a human operator. Car, truck, plane, train, helicopter and boat accidents have all been attributed to distracted operation in recent years. The NTSB is hoping to help change the way people look at distraction in transportation.
The problem of impaired driving is one the NTSB has addressed many times. The presence of substance-impaired driving on the Top 10 Most Wanted list highlights the fact that, despite progress, thousands of people die in highway accidents each year because of impaired drivers. The NTSB took pains to highlight the dangers of alcohol, as well as illicit, prescription and over-the-counter drugs in impairing a person's ability to drive. The group specifically identified the potential of new technology in combating substance-impaired driving.
As an independent Federal agency, the NTSB does not have law-making authority. It seeks to improve transportation safety by making safety recommendations, often based on discoveries made in its primary role of investigating significant accidents in aviation and other areas of transportation.
Source: National Transportation Safety Board, "Most Wanted List," 16 January 2014