Ten Most Wanted Safety Reforms Guide Policy, Laws

The FBI does not have a monopoly on ten most wanted lists. Each year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) also issues its own ten most wanted list, outlining the top safety issues it believes are threatening the nation and making recommendations for safety improvements. The NTSB intends the list to be a guidepost for regulatory agencies and lawmakers across the country in hopes of making U.S. roadways, airways, waterways and railways safer.

The NTSB started compiling its ten most wanted list in 1990, and every year since it has adjusted the list as new regulations and legislation — and new safety threats — come into being. In past years, the ten most wanted list has covered everything from oil pipeline safety to airline cargo compartment fire safety.

The current top ten list is no less diverse. There are several issues pertaining to the airline industry, including general aviation safety, pilot and air traffic controller professionalism and runway safety. Also included are several concerns for the nation's roadways, including bus occupant safety, teen driving and motorcycle safety as well as the recurrent problem of drunk driving, in order to reduce personal injury from auto accidents. In addition, the list contains three safety items regarding general transportation: research on and implementation of better safety management systems, better recording devices like the black boxes found on airplanes and reducing the serious problem of driver fatigue.

In the past, safety agencies and state and national legislatures have used the NTSB's most wanted list to develop new regulations and laws to improve the safety of the nation's transportation systems. For example, in the mid-1990s, the Coast Guard developed regulations requiring crew training for emergency procedures and requiring the crew of passenger vessels to give a pre-departure safety presentation similar to that on airlines. The Coast Guard was prompted to act by an item on the ten most wanted list calling for small passenger-vessel safety improvements.

The data from the NTSB can help inform legislators and safety agencies about the safety issues threatening the nation and arm them with information needed to develop regulations that make the U.S. a safer place to drive, fly, navigate or ride. If you or a loved one has been injured in a transportation accident, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss any legal claims you may have.