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Key Findings

Federal agencies, states and transportation industries are taking longer than ever to act on NTSB recommendations. Over the past decade, the average number of years to implement recommendations went from a historical 3.4 years to 5.4 years. Related stories:
The Bush Years
"Most Wanted"

Key Findings

Over the past four decades, more than 320 fatigue-related accidents and incidents have taken nearly 750 lives in airplane crashes alone. The NTSB has issued 138 fatigue-related safety recommendations since 1967. Only 68 have been implemented. Related stories:
Science of Sleep
Napping in the Cockpit

Key Findings

More than 2,300 people have been killed from ice buildup on aircraft, problems on runways, faulty aircraft maintenance and repairs and overtired pilots, despite dozens of NTSB recommendations to address those problems. Related stories:
Resistance in the Cockpit
Repairing Planes on the Cheap
Pilots – the Next Generation
Legislating Safety

Key Findings

Motor vehicle accidents claim more lives than any other kind of transportation accident, yet no federal system exists for enforcing safety standards. That's left up to states, which have been both inconsistent and resistant. Related stories:
In No Shape to Drive
One Doctor’s Solution
Escaping Oversight
Reincarnated Carrier
Black Boxes
Texting while Driving
School Bus Crash

Key Findings

For four decades, the NTSB has investigated accident after accident that investigators said could have been prevented with automated train control technology. Had railroads installed such a system, more than 780 accidents might have been averted. Related stories:
An Uncertain Future
No One's in Charge

Key Findings

Since the NTSB recommended safety management systems in 2002, there have been about 1,700 accidents involving domestic passenger vessels. Many of them could have been prevented if safety systems had been in place. Related stories:
Boating Without Regard

Breakdown: Traveling
Dangerously in America

A Faulty Safety System – Over the past 43 years, the National Transportation Safety Board has issued more than 13,000 recommendations to make travel safer. These recommendations are often delayed or ignored as accidents continue to happen and people continue to die.
The Bush Years – The NTSB issued far fewer recommendations during the administration of George W. Bush than at any other time in its history, a News21 analysis shows.
The “Most Wanted” List – The NTSB’s “Most Wanted” list is the main way it pushes regulatory agencies, states and industries to adopt safety measures. Most of the time, it works.


Deathly Tired – Pilots and drivers who are too tired to do their jobs frequently commit errors that contribute to accidents. The NTSB has issued 320 fatigue-related recommendations since 1967. More than half have never been implemented.
The Science of Sleep – U.S. rules governing how much rest airline pilots must get are based on outdated research and lag behind other countries.
Napping in the Cockpit – Some airlines have begun to encourage their pilots to take naps. While in the cockpit. While the plane is in flight.


Needless Plane Crashes – Icing on the wings of planes, problems on runways, pilot fatigue and faulty maintenance and repairs are among the most common causes of plane accidents.
Resistance in the Cockpit – Video recorders in cockpits could help solve the mysteries of thousands of air crashes, but pilots are having none of it.
Repairing Planes on the Cheap – Faulty repairs are the second leading cause of plane crashes, after pilot error. Yet more planes are being repaired at cheaper shops overseas that get little oversight.

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Pilots – the Next Generation – Being an airline pilot isn’t as glamorous – or lucrative – as it once was. Some are concerned that a pilot shortage could result.
Legislating Safety – Two bills – one signed into law this summer and another still pending in Congress – tackle some of the key safety issues that remain in air travel.


Ignoring Problems on the Roads – NTSB recommendations to cut down on accidents have been around for years – seatbelts and booster seats, better drunk driving enforcement and more restrictions on young drivers.
In No Shape to Drive – Every day, someone gets behind the wheel of a truck or bus who has no business being there. Getting a medical certificate to drive is remarkably easy.
Escaping Oversight – Thousands of unsafe bus and trucking companies have been ordered out of service, but a number of them find ways to get back on the road.
Reincarnated Carrier – One bus company managed to stay on the road despite repeated violations and fines. It was easy: The owner just kept registering his company under new names.
Black Boxes – For more than a decade, the NTSB has unsuccessfully pushed regulators to mandate black boxes in motor vehicles. Congress recently took up the issue as part of a sweeping auto reform bill.
Texting while Driving – The debate over how to curb a national epidemic of distracted driving deaths comes too late for Reggie Shaw, a Utah man who killed two people while texting and driving.
School Bus Crash – Ten-year-old Taliyah McRoy and two teachers died in two Mississippi school bus crashes earlier this year. Twenty-five students were injured. The tragedies shed light on an emotional four-decade debate over whether the federal government should require expensive seat belts in all the nation’s school buses.
Stopping Highway Accidents – Safety engineers are trying to make roads safer using three very different engineering solutions that alert drivers to danger, slow down traffic and physically impede vehicles from leaving the roadway.


Delayed Technology – Graniteville, S.C., may never recover from a train wreck that killed nine and shut down the main factory. The accident could have been prevented with technology the NTSB recommended decades before.
No One’s in Charge – No single government authority watches over the safety of passengers on light rail and subways, resulting in a patchwork of train systems as the number of accidents grow.


Averting Disaster – Eight years ago, the NTSB urged safety management systems for passenger boats to prevent the kind of accident that occurred on the Delaware River in Philadelphia in July.
Boating Without Regard – To drive a motorboat in 13 states, you don’t have to know anything about operating a boat. In two states, children don’t have to wear life jackets on boats.

What are Your Top
Safety Concerns?

News21 would like to know what you think are some of the solutions that could make travel safer in America.
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Slideshow Photo Credits – Faulty: courtesy Kerry McDaniel; Fatigue: by Tessa Muggeridge/News21; Aviation and Railways: by AJ Maclean/News21; Highways: courtesy Ron Reiring; Marine: courtesy Mathew Grimm.