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National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Archives

Investigation into CTA Crash Concluded

The investigation into last year's Chicago Transit Authority train crash at the O'Hare subway station concluded this week. The National Transportation Safety Board listed several factors as contributing to the March 2014 accident that injured 33 people. The failure of the rail operator to report to work properly rested and the failure of the CTA to manage her schedule were listed as the probable cause of the accident, according to the NTSB report.

New Chairman of the NTSB Confirmed

In a unanimous vote, the U.S. Senate confirmed Christopher Hart as the new chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Mr. Hart has been acting chairman of the NTSB since April, when Deborah A.P. Hersman left to become the president and CEO of the National Safety Council. The confirmation allows Christopher Hart to officially begin his two-year term as the thirteenth chairman of the NTSB.

Transportation Safety Data Released

The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary data concerning 2013 transportation fatalities. According to NTSB figures, 34,678 people were killed across all modes of transportation in 2013. That represents a slight decrease from 2012, during which 35,796 died in transportation accidents. The data groups all deaths from highway accidents, aviation accidents, marine, rail and pipeline transportation accidents. The acting chairman of the NTSB called the total "very troubling" while acknowledging that it represented a slight improvement.

New Recommendations for the FAA

The more time that passes following an accident, the harder it is to determine the cause of that accident. The National Transportation Safety Board is asking the Federal Aviation Administration to make several changes it hopes will allow plane crashes to be found faster and will aid in investigating those crashes. The eight recommendations from the NTSB to the FAA were outlined in a 13-page letter this week. The FAA promised to review the recommendations and prepare a formal response.

Increased Focus on Trucking Safety Needed for 2015

The National Transportation Safety Board released its priority list of safety initiatives for 2015 this week. Trucking safety appears on the list and was the subject of some pointed remarks directed toward regulators. The NTSB pointed out that it has made more than 100 recommendations of ways to improve truck safety that have not been acted on by highway regulators. While the total number of fatal accidents has trended downward over the past four years, trucking fatalities have risen in each of those years. The NTSB only has the power to make recommendations. It does not have the authority to make or enforce trucking regulations.

Priorities in NTSB Investigations

The National Transportation Safety Board lists general aviation among its top ten advocacy priorities in 2014. According to the NTSB, general aviation accidents make up the vast majority of aviation-related deaths in the U.S. The NTSB has been charged with conducting investigations into aviation accidents for nearly 50 years and has conducted numerous safety studies to improve aviation safety. Not all aviation incidents are treated equally, however. An analysis conducted by USA Today shows that aviation accidents involving prominent, politically-connected people or celebrities receive substantially more attention from NTSB investigators than other crashes.

Safety Group Releases Top 10 List For 2014

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.

Bus Accidents And Seat Belts: A 45-Year-Old Story

A 1968 accident involving a drunk driver and a tour bus claimed the lives of 19 victims and prompted calls for seat belts on the commercial vehicles. The National Transportation Safety Board has repeatedly asked the government to pass measures to protect bus passengers in the 45 years that have followed that accident. The NTSB even cited government inaction in its report following a Utah bus accident in which a rollover killed 9 people and injured 43 others. Most recently, regulations mandating the inclusion of seat belts on new buses were to be completed in September. Those regulations are still being reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

Poor Oversight May Have Led To Fatal Bus Accidents

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is the government agency responsible for overseeing the safety of truck and bus companies. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, failures by those regulators have led to multiple fatal bus crashes in recent months. NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman released a statement last week, discussing the findings of an investigation into FMCSA actions. The investigation raised questions about the effectiveness of the FMCSA in ensuring that carriers are following established safety guidelines.

Accident Investigations Await Government Restart

The National Transportation Safety Board is an independent federal body with a number of safety-related responsibilities. It is charged with investigating all civil aviation accidents, as well as significant accidents in railroad, marine and highway transportation situations. It also conducts safety studies, puts forth safety recommendations and assists the victims of transportation accidents and their families. During the partial government shutdown, the majority of NTSB employees have been furloughed. As a result, a number of investigations are currently on hold. The head of the NTSB has asked the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to take the necessary steps to allow the group to resume its safety mission.

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