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National Transportation Safety Board Releases 2014 “Top Ten Most Wanted” list.

Recently the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released its annual list of top ten most wanted safety improvements reports the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF). The most wanted 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.

This year’s list contains:

  • Address Unique Characteristics of Helicopter Operations
  • Advance Passenger Vessel Safety
  • Eliminate Distraction in Transportation
  • Eliminate Substance-Impaired Driving
  • Enhance Pipeline Safety
  • Improve Fire Safety in Transportation
  • General Aviation: Identify and Communicate Hazardous Weather
  • Implement Positive Train Control Systems
  • Promote Operational Safety in Rail Mass Transit
  • Strengthen Occupant Protection in Transportation

Motorcycles did not make the immediate list, but the NTSB did reference motorcycle helmet law deeper in the text of the explanation of one of the ten bullets.

Under the “Strengthen Occupant Protection in Transportation” heading, the NTSB recycles some tired old numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

According to the NTSB, motorcyclists are considered “occupants,” which is a serious stretch of the definition of the word and a crafty way to address motorcycle safety. The MRF has always urged the NTSB and all other federal agencies that they should focus on accident prevention rather than safer crashing.

“Using such a singular approach to motorcycle safety is not the best way to save lives,” said Jeff Hennie, MRF Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs. He continued, “The NTSB has just taken a giant step back from their last attempt to address motorcycle safety in 2011, which included both voluntary helmet use and rider education as equal components.”

The fact is the motorcycle fatalities have dropped almost 20% nationwide since 2008, and at the same time we have seen the relaxing of mandatory helmet laws and a steady increase in motorcycle licensing and registrations.

The chairman of the NTSB, Debra Hersman, has taken a motorcycle safety class and has not ridden since, to the best of our knowledge. She is the person who originally spearheaded the NTSB’s involvement with motorcycle safety when she planned the two-day motorcycle forum at the NTSB in 2006, in which the MRF participated. It’s likely that she will continue to use her influence with the agency to keep motorcycling on or near the NTSB top ten list.