Good afternoon. I am Christopher Hart, and it is my privilege to serve as Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. Today I am accompanied by my colleagues, Vice Chairman Bella Dinh-Zarr, Member Robert Sumwalt, and Member Earl Weener, to announce our newest Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements.
The NTSB is the federal agency created by Congress to investigate accidents in transportation, find what caused them, and issue safety recommendations to prevent recurrences. However, we cannot require action on our recommendations, which means that not all of them will be implemented. That is where our Most Wanted List comes in.
Since 1990, our annual Most Wanted List has been our roadmap from lessons learned to lives saved. It represents actions which, if taken, will reduce property damage, prevent injuries, and save lives in all modes of transportation.
Today, I will announce our list for 2017 and 2018. This new two-year cycle will help to focus our advocacy efforts (and your coverage) on sustained progress. We will take stock at the one-year mark, note what progress has been made, and decide what additional improvements are needed.
Speaking of progress: the NTSB will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year. Transportation in the United States has become much safer over these 50 years, and we are proud of the role we have played in that improved safety.
Yet from 2014-2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, highway fatalities increased by 7.2% -- the largest percentage increase since before the NTSB was founded. Worse yet, early estimates show a 10.4% increase in motor vehicle deaths for the first half of 2016 versus the first half of 2015. Tragically, for the first time since 2008, more than 35,000 people died on our roads.
Before this turn for the worse, the highway safety community’s progress looked good, with fatalities generally declining for decades. This setback is a reminder that safety is not a destination, but a continuing journey, and our efforts to improve safety must never stop. It takes a concerted and continuing effort by industry, government, and private citizens to save lives.
In issue areas in which the nation is making progress, we are pushing to continue the progress. In areas where we have seen setbacks, the NTSB is pushing for improvements that, if implemented, have the potential to move the needle once again in the correct direction.
Without further ado, our Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements for 2017-2018 is: [These should appear one by one on the screens – just the titles]
Reduce Fatigue-Related Accidents
Prevent Loss of Control in Flight in General Aviation
Improve Rail Transit Safety Oversight
End Alcohol and Other Drug Impairment in Transportation
Increase Implementation of Collision Avoidance Technologies
Expand Recorder Use to Enhance Safety
Require Medical Fitness
Strengthen Occupant Protection
Ensure the Safe Shipment of Hazardous Materials
Each of our Board Members has chosen to take questions on specific safety improvements about which they are knowledgeable and passionate. However, we are committed as one Board to all 10 of these vital safety improvements.