WASHINGTON – Donald Trump’s plan to improve the nation’s infrastructure is a big deal for the president-elect, but at the National Transportation Safety Board it’s still safety first. The NTSB released its biennial ‘Most Wanted List’ of safety improvements Monday and improving infrastructure didn’t make the cut.
“A couple years back, we had improve infrastructure as one of the recommendations on our list,” NTSB board member Earl Weener said in response to roads, bridges and the like e not being on the new most wanted list. “It’s not far below the surface, it’s there. It’s just that we have some other issues that we are working instead.”
The other issues include increasing crash-avoidance technology, ending drug impaired driving, eliminating distractions – such as texting — and reducing fatigue-related accidents – all designed to close gaps in safety in highway, rail, air and water travel.
The main focus for the board is highway deaths because last year marked the worst setback in highway fatalities since 1990, according to NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart,
The National Transportation Safety Board, responsible for investigating accidents, determining probable cause, and recommending preventative measures, is an independent federal agency. The board cannot directly carry out new policies but makes recommendations based on its investigations into accidents.
The 2017 and 2018 list includes actions that, if taken, will save lives and reduce injuries, Hart said at a press briefing.
The NTSB list comes out just days after the presidential election.
During his campaign, President-elect Trump’s promised to improve national infrastructure and build up the federal transportation department. During his run, Trump vowed to create jobs through improving transportation systems and incorporating new technologies into these systems.
Despite his promises, Trump’s proposals for transportation infrastructure are not included in his plan for his first 100 days. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said after the election that Trump’s infrastructure plan is not a top priority.
Weener said that Trump’s plan for infrastructure is still important for NTSB even if it didn’t make the agency’s list.
“Our focus is the safety side, certainly the better the infrastructure, the less likely we are to have certain kinds of accidents,” Weener said.