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What's On the NTSB's Most Wanted List?

Data Blocks
Data Blocks

Every year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) releases a list of the ten areas where it wants increased regulation in order to make our roads (and air and water) safer. The 2015 Most Wanted List is out now, and four out of the ten items relate to the transportation industry.

People who work in transportation, whether as drivers or managers, can take the opportunity to work on these four issues themselves. Some might even consider getting politically involved.

The four areas NTSB most wants to see include greater oversight of safety issues, stricter medical requirements, a national ban on texting or talking on the phone while driving, and more stringent efforts to keep drunk or drugged drivers out from behind the wheel. Fleet management software aids in tackling these issues.

Most broadly, the NTSB wants the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to improve their oversight of all aspects of the trucking industry. That includes faster out-of-service placement of carriers that do not improve safety problems, an electronic logging device mandate, and new rules for the trucks themselves. NTSB wants to see all trucks given rollover stability control systems, lane departure warnings, collision warnings, and tire pressure monitoring systems.

Specifically, the board asks for stricter rules regarding driver health, especially more frequent screening for sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. The only people able to do driver health screenings should be professionals with legitimate access to the driver’s medical record and the power to prescribe medication.

The hoped-for ban on personal electronic device (PEC) use and the greater focus on impaired driving do both have a connection. It is well-known, by now, that both impaired and distracted driving is dangerous, yet a lot of risky behavior behind the wheel continues.

Many people simply do not realize the danger of driving under the influence of either illegal drugs or certain medications. And many do not realize that even small amounts of alcohol can meaningfully impair a driver. Most people do know that driving while texting or talking on the phone is dangerous, but they do it anyway. A surprise to many is that using hands-free devices is almost as dangerous as using an ordinary cell phone. Only 14 states, plus DC ban even handheld devices while driving.

Stricter laws and tighter regulation would help with these issues, but in the meantime drivers can address the problem on their own simply by not impairing or distracting themselves while driving. Fleet managers can go one step forward by developing stricter policies to ensure drivers can stay focused on the road.

Here, safety analytics software can help by identifying and recording instances of unsafe or erratic driving. Managers can then ask drivers why the incident occurred and can look for patterns of incidents. For example, do some drivers drive erratically more often than others? Did a normally skilled driver suddenly spend a day driving badly for no apparent reason? With potential problems identified, managers can investigate and take immediate action to secure their fleet.

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