Transportation safety issues have been making news lately, although often for tragic reasons. On June 15, the Federal Aviation Administration met with airline executives and pilot union representatives and agreed on a series of voluntary measures that could be adopted immediately to promote regional carrier safety. The meeting was prompted by the February crash of a Colgan Air turboprop near Buffalo, N.Y., that killed 50 people and exposed disturbing lapses in pilot training and performance. Just a week later, a commuter train crash in the Washington, D.C., Metro system killed nine people; preliminary investigations indicate it may have been caused by faulty signaling equipment.
And last week, the Transportation Construction Coalition (co-chaired by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association and the Associated General Contractors) released a study that found poor conditions on the nation's roads and bridges cost the economy more than $217 billion in lost productivity, property damage and victims' pain and suffering, accounting for more than half of the 42,000 annual motor vehicle deaths and 38 percent of all non-fatal injuries.
Whether the lapses were due to human error, system error or deficient maintenance, it is clear that more needs to be done. What do we need to do to improve safety across all modes of transportation?