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NTSB's Annual Wish List Indirectly Targets the Trucking Industry

The National Transportation Safety Board recently published its much-anticipated “Most Wanted List” for 2016, and it’s already generating headlines not just for what it includes but what it omits. Indeed, one of the key features of the 2015 list, “Strengthen Commercial Trucking Safety” was left off the list.

This isn’t to say, however, that the NTSB hasn’t made improving safety in the trucking industry a priority for the coming year. Rather, it appears that the board decided to pursue a different course of action, including trucking in several of its 10 most-wanted items rather than singling it out for unique treatment.

While a complete breakdown of the NTSB’s 2016 wish list as is beyond the scope of a single blog post, a few of the key points that pertain to the trucking industry include:

Ending impaired driving

The NTSB points out that as many as 33 percent of all highway-related fatalities over the last 15 years have involved an alcohol-impaired driver, and that this problem is only becoming more acute with the growing use of over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

In addition to seeking more data, the NTSB reiterates its call for states to lower the blood alcohol threshold for impaired driving from .08 to .05, as well as enhanced enforcement, improved education efforts and a focus on technological solutions.

Addressing the problem posed by fatigue

Somewhat shockingly, the list outlines how fatigue was determined to be a probable cause, finding or contributing factor in 20 percent of the 182 major investigations undertaken by the NTSB from 2001 to 2012.

Similar to its suggestions for combating impaired driving, the board calls for a solution that includes education, enforcement and technological advancement. However, it also calls for increased research into sleep disorder treatment and, perhaps most significantly for truckers, reassessment of existing hours-of-service regulations.

Ensuring medical fitness for duty

Outlining how undiagnosed and untreated medical conditions among safety-critical personnel, including truckers, can greatly elevate the risk of serious and even deadly accidents, the NTSB calls for the introduction of comprehensive and uniform medical certification programs to ensure medical fitness for duty.

By way of example, the NTSB highlights how sleep apnea — a major issue in the trucking industry — can result in the aforementioned fatigue-related accidents if undiagnosed and/or untreated.

Here’s hoping we see some of the NTSB’s aspirations realized in 2016.

If you’ve suffered catastrophic injuries or lost a loved one in a truck accident, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional to understand more about your options for pursuing justice.