The NTSB Makes New Recommendations

There is a lot going on in the world of safety-in-trucking and we are right here ready to report on all of it for you, our loyal readers.

In our latest blog post, we wanted to cover in greater detail some of the new guidance released by the NTSB. Let’s dive in.

NTSB on Collision Avoidance Systems

According to a recent statement released by the director of the National Transportation Safety Board’s Office of Highway Safety, Rob Molloy, collision avoidance technology could dramatically improve the safety of both truck drivers and those on the road around them.

His comments came during a November 15 meeting of the NTSB designed to report on progress in addressing the NTSB’s 2017-2018 Most Wanted List. Released November of 2016, the List was created to identify the areas where safety improvements can make a large impact.

They outlined the following:

  • Aviation;
  • Highway;
  • Marine;
  • Pipeline;
  • Hazardous materials, and;
  • Rail.

The goal is to see safety improvements on each of those factors and across the various modes of transportation they utilize.

According to Molloy, the highest truck-related accidents the NTSB investigation uncovered happened when a truck doesn’t stop in time and hits vehicles in front of it. He then went on to site an incident where a truck that could have had safety equipment installed but didn’t crashed into a passenger car and killed the occupants.

What Else is on The List?

While the focus of Molloy’s comments were on collision avoidance systems, he also touched on other priorities on the Most Wanted List, which included:

  • The safe shipment of hazardous materials;
  • Reducing truck driver alcohol and drug impairment;
  • Requiring medical fitness certificates;
  • Finding ways to further decrease incidents of distracted driving;
  • Strengthen occupant protection inside the cab;
  • Expand the use of event-recording technology, and;
  • Improve intermodal oversight, specifically in the area of rail transit safety and loss of control in aviation.

The NTSB further goes on – in its list – to recommend that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) require all heavy-duty commercial motor vehicle operators to install video-event recorders. This recommendation will go a long way to providing actionable data both fleets and inspectors can use in real-time.

The agency wants access to actionable data that can be used to assess performance, safety measures, and other critical metrics and indicators.

The Black Box and Sleep Apnea

Another member of the NTSB’s review board, Bella Dinh-Zarr, stated that the agency does not “have the event data recorders in trucks that we have in many vehicles. It’s quite unpopular because people think it’s Big Brother. It’s a way to ensure truckers keep themselves safe, as well as everyone else on the road.”

What Dinh-Zarr was referring to were the devices known within the trucking industry as “black boxes.” These diminutive devices are essentially near-constant data recorders that track everything that happens with the vehicle. They can be used to find useful information in the event of a crash.

Finally, the NTSB issued a statement on sleep apnea, recommending that the FMCSA devise a program that will allow investigators to pinpoint truck drivers who may be at a greater risk for sleep apnea. It then recommends the FMCSA require that drivers who are singled out get a medical clearance certificate from a medical professional. Approved databases of such medical professionals are made available to fleet truck drivers.

So, what’s next? Well, the NTSB is an independent federal agency and its recommendations are the largest tool in its toolbox. Does this mean industry is forced to comply? No, but generally when the NTSB makes recommendations, the industry needles move.