A Plain-Language Translation of the NTSB Safety Bulletin

Feds to drivers, automakers: Stop sucking so hard.

byWill Sabel Courtney| UPDATED May 30, 2019 8:18 AM
A Plain-Language Translation of the NTSB Safety Bulletin

You suck at driving.

As far as cars are concerned, that’s the basic takeaway from the National Transportation Safety Board’s list of most-wanted transportation safety improvements. The annual report, released on January 13, sets forth 10 “critical changes needed to  reduce transportation accidents and save lives.” For car guys, the NTSB breaks down five categories where passenger vehicles and drivers need to step up their safety game. Since it’s rendered in traditionally dry, bureaucratic language, we figured we’d liven it up a bit and present them to you in plain English.

1.) DRIVERS, STOP BEING SO DAMN TIRED. Fatigue is a huge problem across all forms of transportation in the U.S. Regulations can help address this problem for commercial operators (limiting the number of hours people can work, providing treatment for sleep disorders, etc.), but private drivers have to take responsibility for themselves. If you’re nodding off behind the wheel, stop and take a break.

2.) AUTOMAKERS, MAKE THAT SELF-BRAKING SHIT STANDARD. Automatic braking systems have become fairly common during the last few years, but they’re still not standard. And the NTSB thinks that’s costing a lot of lives. Even a brief moment of distraction can cause people to hit the brakes a split second too late. Which leads to the next point…

3.) DRIVERS, PUT DOWN THE FUCKING PHONE. Seriously, just put it down. Better yet, stick it out of sight as soon as you get in the car. Those evil little black mirrors we all keep in our pockets are an enormous distraction, and so long as they’re near the driver’s seat, people will be tempted to use them. And then people will get distracted, and they will crash, and they will die, and they will kill other people.

4.) AUTOMAKERS, BUILD SAFER CARS, FOR CHRIST’S SAKE. Admittedly, manufacturers already do a good job on this one, but there’s always room for improvement. Making cars and trucks that soak up and redirect the energy of a crash away from the people inside, as well as making it easier for occupants to get out after a crash, will help reduce fatalities.

5.) DRIVERS, CUT IT OUT WITH THE ​DRINKING AND DRUGS​​​DRINKING AND DRUGS. The frequency is down, but drinking and driving is still a problem. But nowadays, we also have taking Oxycontin and driving, and shooting up smack and driving, and a litany of other drugs—legal and illegal alike—which spell trouble. Will it impair the brain of a human being piloting a two-ton metal object at 70 mph? Yes? Don’t ingest it. (Well, not until you’re home, at least…—Ed.)