Increased implementation of collision-avoidance systems is on the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) “Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements.” The NTSB’s analysis of a June 2016 crash illustrates why, the agency said.
After completing its investigation of the June 29, 2016, highway accident in Goodland, Kan. – which killed six people and injured five – the NTSB determined that collision-avoidance technology might have prevented the accident or mitigated its severity.
“While the NTSB did not issue safety recommendations based upon the findings of this investigation, the investigation does emphasize the need to implement 15 NTSB safety recommendations to improve highway safety and to reduce the number and severity of highway crashes,” said Rob Molloy, director of the NTSB’s Office of Highway Safety. “The causal and contributing factors to this tragic and completely preventable crash demonstrate why the issues of fatigue, occupant protection and collision avoidance are on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. In this crash, a collision-avoidance system, especially one capable of automatically applying the brakes, might have prevented this accident or at least lessened the severity of the crash.”
A seven-passenger SUV carrying 11 occupants (including the driver) was struck from behind by a semi-truck at about 2:15 a.m. on I-70 near Goodland. Survivors of the crash said they believed the SUV was traveling near the posted minimum speed limit of 40 mph while the striking semi-truck was traveling near the posted maximum speed limit of 75 mph at the time of impact.
The NTSB determined that the truck driver’s failure to take effective action to avoid the crash, due to his fatigue and lack of expectancy to encounter the slow-moving SUV, led to the crash. The SUV driver’s decision to continue traveling at a reduced speed on the highway without the use of flashing hazard lights contributed to the crash.
The overloading of the SUV and the lack of a collision-avoidance system on the truck contributed to the severity of the crash, according to the NTSB.
“Of the 315 open safety recommendations associated with the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements, 15 relate to the issues identified in this crash investigation,” said Molloy. “Of the 39,339 transportation fatalities in 2016, highway fatalities accounted for 37,461 deaths, or 95 percent of all transportation fatalities in 2016. We view the implementation of these recommendations as vital to ensuring the safety of America’s transportation system. The longer it takes for NTSB safety recommendations to be implemented, the longer an identified safety need remains unaddressed, potentially threatening the safety of travelers and transportation workers.”