Posts Tagged ‘NTSB report’

Automatic Braking Systems may become standard in Passenger Vehicles

Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a special report that calls for automatic braking system to become standard in all cars. The board asserts that avoidance systems can help to prevent and lessen the severity of rear-end collisions. Since the NTSB does not actually set policy, its report is essentially an appeal to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to require new cars and trucks to include an automatic braking system.

In the report, the NTSB cited statistics from 2012 which indicated 1,700 deaths and 500,000 injuries occurred as a result of rear-end collisions. The board believes that an electronic avoidance system could have mitigated up to 80% of these deaths and injuries.

The automatic braking systems that the NTSB would like to make standard in new vehicles relies on a camera and laser radar technology to stop or slow down a car if it detects an object ahead, including another vehicle. The technology is currently available from most automotive manufacturers as part of a special safety package costing several hundred dollars extra. However, automakers remain reluctant to make it a standard feature.

The NTSB report criticizes “slow and insufficient action” by NHTSA, with regard to implementing this as standard technology in passenger and commercial vehicles, as well as “a lack of incentives for manufacturers” that have the ability to put the technology in more vehicles but only offer it in more expensive models.

The report advises manufacturers to add collision-warning systems and emergency braking into all vehicles. The NTSB also advises consumers to consider vehicles that have collision warning and emergency braking functions.

NTSB Recommends “Hands-Free” Ban for Truckers

On May 28, 2013 a Mack truck hauling debris to a local recycling center pulled into the path of an oncoming moving train shortly before 2 p.m. The resulting collision caused 15 cars in the 45-car train to derail, including three carrying hazardous waste.  The final conclusions of an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board shows that the driver of the truck had failed to stop at the crossing despite repeated horn blasts from the locomotive. The NTSB cited several causative or contributing factors including: The driver had failed to disclose to federal regulators that he suffered from “severe, untreated obstructive sleep apnea” which likely affected his alertness. The driver’s employer had a poor safety record.  And the sight distance at the crossing was diminished, in part, by vegetative growth that needed to be trimmed back. There was another important factor; at the time of the crash the driver had been engaged in a conversation on his cell phone. Although he was using it in a “hands-free” mode, investigators concluded that the phone had been a distraction. Based on that finding, as well as other crash investigations, the NTSB has recommended that truck drivers not be allowed to use hands-free portable electronic devices while operating a vehicle except in an emergency. In further support of NTSB’s recommendation, several recent studies have concluded that hands-free cellular operation does not reduce the frequency of accidents.  Distracted driving continues to be a problem. While commercial vehicle operators are hardly alone in this, accidents involving tractor-trailers are far more likely to be deadly than those involving other types of vehicles — that’s just the physics of 80,000-pounds of rolling metal versus a two-ton car.

NTSB Releases Preliminary Report on Collapse of I-5 Bridge in Washington State

The National Transportation Safety Board continues their investigation into the I-5 bridge collapse over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon, WA. Although the collapse occurred on May 24, 2013, to date they have only released a preliminary report, covering the circumstances and causes of this collapse. The details from PRELIMINARY REPORT HIGHWAY HWY13MH012 are as follows: On Thursday, May 23, 2013, a span of the Interstate 5 Bridge (Structure 4794A) at milepost 228.25 in Mount Vernon, Skagit County, Washington, collapsed into the Skagit River.The bridge was constructed in 1955 and the collapsed span consisted of two northbound and two southbound traffic lanes divided by a concrete barrier. Leading up to the collapse, a Kenworth truck-tractor hauling an oversize load was following a pilot vehicle southbound on I-5. Witnesses reported that as these two vehicles approached the bridge, a second southbound tractor-trailor overtook and passed the vehicle with the oversize load in the left lane. The driver of the first tractor-trailor reported to NTSB investigators that he had felt “crowded” by the other vehicle trying to pass. In reaction, he moved his vehicle over towards the right hand side of the road. As the oversize load he was hauling moved onto the bridge, it collided with the overhead portal and multiple sway braces on the far right side of the truss structure. This caused major damage to load-bearing members of the bridge’s superstructure. The result was the subsequent collapse of the bridge into the river. The height of the oversize load was a major contributing factor. The driver reported the height of the load to be 15 feet 9 inches, but the lowest portion of the sway braces was later measured at only 14 feet 8 inches. Two passenger vehicles were also on the bridge span at the time of the collapse, and wound up in the river as well. Injuries but no fatalities were reported. The second part of the NTSB’s report has yet to be issued and the investigation is still listed as ongoing and active.

NTSB Investigates Fatal Metro-North Derailment

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report on the Metro-North derailment in the Bronx is only in its first days, but it has already turned up some startling facts. The train derailed on the morning of Dec. 1, right outside the Spuyten Duyvil station, with four fatalities and 70 injuries as the tragic result. As is customary in NTSB investigations, as well as all kinds of accident reconstructions, two event recorders from the derailed train were examined. The train, plane, or truck’s speed is just one of the many specifics documented by the vehicle’s event recorder. According to NTSB board member Earl Weener, the train headed into the curve just ahead of the station at 82 mph, in a zone where the speed limit drops from 70 mph to 30 mph. In addition, the NTSB also found some kind of problem with the train’s brake pressure. A mere five seconds prior to the engine finally stopping, brake pressure dropped from 120 psi to 0. NTSB investigators still have more work to do to determine whether or not the brakes were functioning correctly and why the pressure went to 0. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) remarked that “given this was the fifth major accident or malfunction on the Metro-North Railroad in just over six months, major questions have arisen about safety on the commuter railroad system.” As of Dec. 3, the NTSB states that it remains unclear whether human error or faulty equipment was responsible for this deadly derailment. Their investigation continues. Needless to say, this fatal accident has brought service on the line to a halt, inconveniencing thousands of commuters. N.Y. Governor Cuomo said in a statement on Monday that he expects to see Metro-North service restored toward the end of the week, though officials for the railroad itself said there was no definitive timetable for full service.

NTSB Reports on Airplane Accidents Caused by Wildlife

Much is made in the news about terrorist attacks on airplanes, of course with good reason. But there are other, somewhat “hairier” things that can also take a plane down (no pun intended). Take a look at these two reports from the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board):

In the first incident, the NTSB reports that a plane was attempting to land on a small airport runway, when a deer ran onto the pavement right toward the oncoming plane. The pilot attempted to climb, but couldn’t accomplish it before the deer struck and substantially damaged the left horizontal stabilizer. The pilot was able to stop without further incident, and no mention is made of what happened to the deer.

For an incident like this, the NTSB didn’t send an investigator, but depended upon reports from the FAA and the pilot to make its determination: The probable cause(s) of this accident—An inadvertent collision with a deer during landing. This raises the question of whether or not the airport should have had a fence, however, no fence could have prevented what happened in the next incident.

The second reported incident took place between a student pilot and our national bird, the bald eagle. According to the flight instructor, the plane was 1,000 feet above the ground when the eagle hit the right horizontal stabilizer. The instructor immediately took over and landed at the nearest airport. He reported that the rudder controls were impaired on final approach, but he managed to land without incident. Again, nothing was mentioned as to what happened to the bald eagle.

However, the plane showed a large indentation on the right horizontal stabilizer with bird feathers embedded in it. The tail cone was shoved upward into contact with the rudder, which had impeded the rudder’s movement.

For those of you unfamiliar with NTSB, it’s an independent branch of the government charged with advancing transportation safety. The NTSB’s mandate is to investigate every civil aviation accident, as well as major accidents in other types of transportation, including train accidents, marine accidents, and even pipeline accidents. They attempt to determine the probable causes and issue recommendations for safety improvements that could prevent future accidents.

Click here for more information about the NTSB.