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NTSB issues traffic safety wish list

The National Transportation Safety Board, as its name implies, has oversight over the safety of both the nation’s highways and other transportation channels. It recently announced its so-called list of Most Wanted improvements in traffic safety.

Three of the Board’s priorities all involved hazards that are blamed for tens of thousands of deaths each year. With respect to these priorities, the Board noted an ongoing problem with distracted driving. This problem not only affects busy parents and those trying to multitask while commuting to work. Commercial operators and even pedestrians need to do better avoiding distractions.

The Board also wants more done to reduce both speeding and driving while impaired. Given that each of these risky behaviors was blamed for over 10,000 deaths in 2017, the Board sees these as especially important.

Specifically, the Board is recommending that states adopt a lower threshold for what constitutes being legally drunk behind the wheel. The Board wants to see Florida and other states join Utah in lowering the threshold blood alcohol content to 0.05.

With regard to speeding, the Board is recommending that states and local governments use technology, such as cameras and advanced road design, to make it harder for motorists to speed, at least without getting caught doing so.

Interestingly, the Board also focused on fatigued driving. With respect to truck accidents in particular, the Board noted mounting concern with commercial drivers having undiagnosed sleep apnea, a condition that can lead to driver fatigue even when the driver has, apparently, had enough sleep.

Even without new laws, all of the Board’s safety priorities are already things commercial drivers must take seriously if they want to avoid accidents. If they fail to take these issues seriously and cause an accident, their victims may be eligible for compensation.