The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency. It is charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the U.S. and significant accidents in other modes of transportation, including fatal truck crashes. Among other things, NTSB, determines the probable cause of the accident and issues safety recommendation to help prevent similar incidents in the future.
What Is Involved In a NTSB Truck Accident Investigation?
When people are killed in a crash involving a large commercial truck, NTSB may be called in to investigate. The investigation process involves certain basic steps:
Initial Notification and Decision to Launch
Usually in the aftermath of a catastrophic truck accident, the first phase begins when NTSB is notified and decides to launch an investigation. If criminal activity is suspected, other agencies, such as the FBI or local law enforcement, may also be involved. NTSB’s focus in the investigation is solely on transportation safety and determining probable cause.
On-Scene Investigation and Fact Gathering
NTSB investigators collect information and data necessary to analyze the accident and determine probable cause. An investigator or investigative team travel to the scene of the crash and gather additional information as well from off-site sources such as maintenance records and personal interviews. NTSB has the authority and discretion to designate corporations or other organizations that can provide expertise as parties to the investigation.
Analysis of Findings and Report
Specialists with NTSB analyze the information that has been collected to arrive at a sequence of events and to determine what occurred that caused the accident. The investigative team prepares a draft report, which is presented to the modal office director for approval under delegated authority, or to the Board for adoption. When the report has been adopted, a final copy is prepared for public release. The report contains:
- Description of the accident
- Review of investigative analysis
- Determination of probable cause
If the investigation revealed important safety issues, NTSB addresses them with safety recommendations, which may be directed to regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), manufacturers, state and local jurisdictions, and other organizations involved in the specific area of transportation. After a multiple-fatality truck accident, for example, their recommendations may involve changes in regulations or best practices for the trucking industry.
What Types of Information Does NTSB Collect After a Severe Truck Accident?
When investigating a truck accident, the NTSB team will collect and analyze information about what led to the crash and how it occurred. Examples of data they gather may include:
- Truck driver’s logbook: This contains information about how far the driver has travelled and how many hours he or she has spent behind the wheel.
- Driver’s history: NTSB will look to see if the driver has a history of past accidents and whether they occurred because of negligence or impairment.
- Maintenance reports: Like drivers’ logbooks, maintenance reports often exist in virtual form. They provide information about how well the company maintained the vehicle.
- Load information: Investigators will evaluate what cargo the truck was carrying, how it was loaded, who loaded it, and any other factors related to the cargo that may have contributed to the crash. NTSB may also evaluate what impact the cargo could have on accident survivors, particularly after a tanker truck accident.
If you or your loved one has been seriously injured in a truck crash, it is important to speak with an experienced Colorado Springs truck accident lawyer as soon as possible, so critical evidence in your case can be preserved. At The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., we have achieved consistent success for our clients in and outside the courtroom. Contact us at (719) 401-0585 to get a top rated Colorado Springs truck accident attorney on your side.