146251486 | Vitpho | Dreamstime.com
The retirement of the National Transportation Safety Board's Most-Wanted List means the industry is now lacking a watchful set of eyes.

Vaughn: Farewell, most-wanted list. Hello, arched eyebrows

March 14, 2024
The retirement of the National Transportation Safety Board's Most-Wanted List means the industry is now lacking a watchful set of eyes.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s “Most-Wanted List” was created in 1990 and retired in 2023. For more than 30 years, it highlighted transportation safety improvements needed to prevent accidents, reduce injuries, and save lives. NTSB is an independent government organization with no rulemaking power. All it has is a “bully pulpit.”

NTSB is not an “executive branch” agency, unlike the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the other transportation regulatory agencies that report up the ladder to the White House. To some, NTSB stood above the political fray. To others, it bore no responsibility for the practicality of its “Most-Wanted List” pronouncements.

Now the MWL is gone and with it, we have lost a set of arched eyebrows. Let me explain.

My father raised me to work hard and take personal responsibility for my actions. He wouldn’t lift a finger to assist in the chores assigned to me, but he was quite aware of how well I did them. Sometimes, when I came in from working outside or off the playing fields of school sports, I’d look at my dad and see his arched eyebrows. I knew then that maybe I had not done my best.

For all its pluses and minuses, NTSB’s MWL was, in that respect, a set of arched eyebrows, saying to the regulatory agencies, have you done your best? As a fleet manager responsible for the safety of drivers and equipment, it pays to have someone express that same arched-eyebrows question.

Safety is not achieved by complacency or by doing the same thing we’ve always done. Safety requires thought and adaptation to changing circumstances. It requires going beyond “good enough.” Arched eyebrows can challenge us to do our best.

See also: Reaction: NTSB’s safety improvement wish list

Look around you. There may be a boss, colleague, or friend who knows your work habits and can give feedback that there’s more to be done. When I served at the California Highway Patrol, a colleague was well-known for writing down every possible permutation of a solution to a problem, with page after page of notepaper ending in his wastebasket until he was satisfied. That was how he worked. One evening, he was leaving his office when the janitor came in and silently pointed to his empty wastebasket. “I knew then I had not done my best that day,” he later told me.

The transportation regulatory agencies no longer have NTSB’s MWL arching an eyebrow or wagging a finger at them. But for those who work in highway safety, it pays to have someone hold us to our best effort. Find your arched eyebrows now!

About the Author

Steve Vaughn | Senior Vice President of Field Operations

Steve Vaughn is senior vice president of field operations at PrePass Safety Alliance, the provider of PrePass weigh station bypass and electronic toll-payment and management services. Vaughn served nearly three decades with the California Highway Patrol and is a past president of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

Sponsored Recommendations

Reducing CSA Violations & Increasing Safety With Advanced Trailer Telematics

Keep the roads safer with advanced trailer telematics. In this whitepaper, see how you can gain insights that lead to increased safety and reduced roadside incidents—keeping drivers...

80% Fewer Towable Accidents - 10 Key Strategies

After installing grille guards on all of their Class 8 trucks, a major Midwest fleet reported they had reduced their number of towable accidents by 80% post installation – including...

Proactive Fleet Safety: A Guide to Improved Efficiency and Profitability

Each year, carriers lose around 32.6 billion vehicle hours as a result of weather-related congestion. Discover how to shift from reactive to proactive, improve efficiency, and...

Tackling the Tech Shortage: Lessons in Recruiting Talent and Reducing Turnover

Discover innovative strategies for recruiting and retaining tech talent in the trucking industry during this informative webinar, where experts will share insights on competitive...

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!