The National Transportation Safety Board’s Safer Seas Digest
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is a federal agency that investigates accidents within the major modes of transportation, including aviation, railroad, highway, pipeline and maritime accidents. After conducting a thorough investigation, the NTSB determines the likely cause of the accident. The NTSB also provides a recommendation for future safety and avoidance of similar accidents.
The NTSB publishes a report each year with a detailed examination of major boat accidents. Referred to as the Safer Seas Digest, this report examines a series of serious maritime accidents that resulted in wrongful death, catastrophic injury and other consequences.
In the Safer Seas Digest 2016, the NTSB examines 27 different maritime accidents to determine the best safety measures for future prevention of similar accidents. In their 2016 report, the NTSB divides accidents into seven different categories:
- Allision – a moving boat hits a stationary boat;
- Capsizing – a boat flips over in water and begins sinking;
- Collision – two moving boats hit each other;
- Fire – a fire spreads on the boat and results in damage;
- Flooding – a boat takes on water from a breach and begins sinking;
- Grounding – a boat stops itself on the ground, shore or waterbed; and
- Loss of Life – improper maintenance or decision making led to the loss of human life.
The accidents examined differed greatly concerning type of vessel and location. Certain accidents involved cargo ships, others involved fishing boats, tankers and towing barges. The location of the accidents ranged from California to Hawaii to Florida, including the Gulfs of Alaska and Mexico.
After exploring the facts and causes for the 27 maritime accidents in question, the NTSB provided a breakdown of significant lessons learned for future safety and prevention.
The NTSB synthesized a number of lessons learned that are highly relevant for future safety and prevention discussions, including:
- Fatigue is a leading cause for accidents in all transportation sectors;
- Distraction is a leading cause of accidents in all transportation sectors;
- Properly maintained safety equipment is vital to mitigate the impact of accidents;
- Improper use of medication while operating a boat is a contributing factor in many accidents;
- Disregarding standards for maintenance and repair often leads to disastrous consequences; and
- Operating a vessel in strong currents, high water or stormy conditions increases the level of danger significantly.
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