The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is keeping pressure on regulators to require speed limiters on trucks as well as performance standards for automatic emergency braking (AEB) and other crash-avoidance technology.
Those policy goals were once again included on the safety agency’s latest Most Wanted List of top 10 transportation safety improvements for 2021-22. Speed limiter recommendations were on NTSB’s 2019-20 list, and AEB has been singled out as a top 10 improvement since 2016.
Recommendations were also made for marine, rail and aviation safety.
“Board members of the NTSB and our advocacy team continuously seek opportunities to communicate about items on our Most Wanted List (MWL),” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt on Tuesday. “As we begin advocacy efforts for the 2021-2022 MWL, we call upon our advocacy partners to amplify our safety messages and help us bring about the safety improvements that will make transportation safer for us all.”
NTSB noted that speeding-related crashes resulted in nearly 100,000 fatalities between 2009 and 2018, close to one-third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. The agency contends that the extent of the problem is likely underestimated because speed-related crash reporting is inconsistent.
“Speed limiters on large trucks, automated enforcement, expert speed analysis tools and education campaigns are underused in our communities,” the agency stated. “These critical tools and strategies must be implemented to address this safety problem.”
The NTSB recommended that regulators:
Develop performance standards for advanced speed-limiting technology, such as variable speed limiters and intelligent speed adaptation devices, for heavy vehicles, including trucks, buses and motorcoaches, and then require that all newly manufactured heavy vehicles be equipped with such devices.
Collaborate with traffic safety stakeholders to develop and implement an ongoing program to increase public awareness of speeding as a national traffic safety issue.
Revise regulations to strengthen requirements for all speed engineering studies and remove the guidance that speed limits in speed zones be within 5 mph of the 85th percentile speed.
Update speed enforcement guidelines to reflect the latest automated speed enforcement technologies and operating practices and promote these guidelines.
As it has over the last five years, NTBS also placed requirements for collision-avoidance and connected-vehicle technology on its most-wanted safety improvement list, citing AEB and forward-collision warning devices specifically.
“Yet, most passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles (such as heavy-duty trucks and school buses) on the road today are not equipped — nor required to be equipped — with such lifesaving technologies,” it stated. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not developed comprehensive performance standards for these technologies, nor does it effectively evaluate them and include this information in its vehicle safety ratings.”
For commercial vehicles, NTSB recommended that regulators:
Complete standards for collision-warning and AEB systems in commercial vehicles and require this technology in all highway vehicles and all new school buses.
Develop performance standards for connected-vehicle technology and restart the proposed rulemaking to require this technology be installed on all newly manufactured highway vehicles.