The National Safe Transportation Safety Board recently released its “Top 10” Safety Transportation priorities for 2013. This “Top 10” List represents the NTSB’s advocacy priorities. It is designed to increase awareness of, and support for, the most critical changes needed to reduce transportation accidents and save lives. The list of priorities includes airport surface operation, bus safety, fire safety, general aviation safety, pipeline safety, and positive train control. Those priorities directed towards trucking include the elimination of driving distractions, infrastructure, substance-impaired driving, and collision avoidance.

According to the NTSB, the number one killer on the priority safety list was substance-impaired driving. More people die on the highways than in any other mode of transportation. Over 90% of all transportation deaths occur on the highway. Alcohol impaired and drug impaired driving contribute heavily to these deaths. In 2010 more than 10,000 deaths involved an alcohol impaired driver. In 2009 approximately 1/3 of fatally injured drivers tested positive for drugs.

The NTSB also points out the need to eliminate distraction in transportation. Deaths by distracted driving are the highest on the highway and will only increase as the use of these devices increases. In a 2010 study on distracted driving, Virginal Tech University concluded that texting, emailing, or accessing the internet increased the likelihood of an accident by more than 163 times.

Another issue highlighted on the NTSB list is the integrity and preservation of the nation’s infrastructure. In 2010, 4.2 trillion passenger miles were traveled on the county’s highways. Freight shipments including air, rail, truck, and water totaled more than 4.3 trillion ton-miles. The nation’s infrastructure continues to age. This can be seen in such incidents as the 2007bridge collapse in Minneapolis, the 2020 pipeline rupture and fire in San Bruno CA, and 2003 train derailment in Tamaroa IL causing 850 people to be evacuated after toxic chemicals were released. These incidents are only a few examples of the need to maintain the nation’s infrastructure.

“Transportation is safer than ever, but with 35,000 annual fatalaties and hundreds of thousands of injuries, we can and must do better, said NTSB Chairperson Deboroah Hersman.