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National Transportation Safety Board

Washington, DC 20594


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 16, 2010










The National Transportation Safety Board today updated its

Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements

directed at state governments by adding a new issue area -

motorcycle safety - and dropping another - recreational

boating - where substantial progress has been made.  The

changes were announced today at a press conference in

Washington, D.C.


"State governments are in a unique position to effect the

most significant improvement in certain areas of

transportation safety," NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman

said.  "Our Most Wanted List spotlights those states that

have made noteworthy progress in better protecting the

traveling public - and those that have not."


Highlights of the Board's actions announced today follow.


Improve Motorcycle Safety


The NTSB added this new issue area to the list.  From 1997

through 2008, the number of motorcycle fatalities more than

doubled during a period when overall highway fatalities

declined.  Although the number of motorcycle fatalities fell

in 2009, the 4,400 deaths still outnumber those in aviation,

rail, marine and pipeline combined.


According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, head

injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.

The NTSB therefore recommends that everyone aboard a

motorcycle be required to wear a helmet that complies with

DOT's Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218. Currently,

20 states, the District of Columbia and 4 territories have

universal helmet laws that apply to all riders.  Twenty-

seven states and one territory have partial laws the require

minors and/or passengers to wear helmets.  Three states -

Iowa, Illinois and New Hampshire - have no helmet laws.


Eliminate Distractions for Young Drivers


Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for

people aged 15-20.  Teen drivers represent on average less

than 7 percent of the driving population but account for

more than 13 percent of drivers involved in deadly crashes.

To improve the environment and decrease the crash risk for

teenagers, NTSB recommends that states implement a

comprehensive graduated driver licensing (GDL) system.


GDL systems consist of three stages - a learner's permit, an

intermediate or provisional license, and a full license -

and places restrictions on these young, novice drivers to

limit their distractions.  Such distractions include

restricting the number of passengers that teen drives can

carry and restricting their use of interactive wireless

communication devices.  Although 49 states and the District

of Columbia have strengthened their driver licensing systems

in the past decade, only 15 states have included all the

elements that the NTSB recommends.  Thirty-four states lack

some elements, and North Dakota does not have a 3-stage GDL



The risk of a crash involving a teenage driver increases

with each additional teen passenger in the vehicle.  In

addition, conducting a conversation on a wireless telephone

or texting can decrease situational awareness, especially

for someone who is still learning to deal with a myriad of

traffic conditions and situations.  NTSB recommendations are

aimed at eliminating these distractions for young, novice



Twenty-two states lack passenger restrictions for novice

drivers that would satisfy NTSB recommendations, and 24

states have no ban on interactive wireless communication by

drivers with learner's permits or intermediate licenses.


Improve Child Occupant Protection


About 45 percent of the 3,000 children between the ages of 4

and 8 who died in motor vehicle accidents (2000-2009) were

unrestrained.  The NTSB recommends that states require that

children younger than 8 but too large for child safety seats

be restrained in booster seats.  Twenty one states and two

territories need to enact or amend laws to satisfy this



Enact Primary Seat Belt Enforcement Laws


In 2009, 55 percent of the 23,000 people who died as

occupants in auto crashes were not wearing seat belts.

Using lap/shoulder belts reduces the risk of fatal injury to

front seat passengers by 45 percent and the risk of

moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent.  The NTSB

recommends that all states enact primary seat belt

enforcement laws.  Nineteen states still lack such laws, and

14 states and 2 territories that have primary enforcement

laws need to expand them to all seating positions.


Eliminate Hard Core Drinking Driving


The nation's deadliest drunk driving accident occurred 22

years ago, when a drunk driver hit an activity bus head-on

in Kentucky, killing 27 people.  The driver had a history of

impaired driving convictions, and had a blood alcohol level

of 0.26 percent that night.  Since 2001, more than 81,000

persons have been killed by hard core drinking drivers.  The

NTSB recommends an 11-step model program to combat this

deadly epidemic.  Six states (California, Nebraska, New

Hampshire, Ohio, Utah and Virginia) have a sufficiently

rigorous program that the NTSB considers acceptable action.

However, 23 states have achieved insufficient progress on

the issue.  The remaining states and territories have

partially complied with the recommendation.


Enhance Recreational Boating Safety


Almost 700 people die every year in recreational boating

accidents in the United States.  In 1994, the NTSB added

this issue area to the Most Wanted List, asking the states

to require personal flotation devices for children and

implement training and licensing requirements for their

recreational boaters.  Since that time, 70 percent of the

states have responded favorably to those recommendations.

The NTSB has removed this issue from the Most Wanted List,

but will continue to push for action in the remaining



Chairman Hersman closed today's press conference by noting

that someone dies in a traffic crash in this country every

13 minutes.  "The number of people who die every week on our

roadways (650) is equivalent to five 737 passenger jets

crashing every seven days.  If that many people were killed

in airplane crashes, the American people would be up in

arms," Chairman Hersman said.  "Although highway fatalities

declined last year, we still need a call to arms to reduce

the number of these daily, needless tragedies on our



A complete package explaining state actions on all these

recommendations, including easy-to-follow maps, is available

on the Board's website at






-     30 -


NTSB Media Contacts:  (202) 314-6100


Improve Motorcycle Safety --  Terry Williams,

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Distractions for Young Drivers - Keith Holloway

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Occupant Protection - Bridget Serchak

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Hard Core Drinking Driving - Peter Knudson

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Recreational Boating - Keith Holloway This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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