Colloquium: 2023-10-03


True or False?
94% of Traffic Crashes Are Due to Human Error
— and Why it Matters

The Honorable Jennifer Homendy
Chair, National Transportation Safety Board

TBD @ 2p.m.
Pearl Young Theatre &

It can be tempting to blame “human error” when something goes wrong on our transportation system, whether it’s an aviation accident or incident, train derailment, roadway crash, marine casualty, pipeline disaster, or a commercial space mishap — all of which the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigates. But human error is inevitable and present in everything we do; even automated technology systems are not immune, despite what some might have you believe.

In this lecture, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy will share how the NTSB employs a systems approach in its investigations to uncover the root cause of human error and crafts safety recommendations to prevent their reoccurrence. She will address the widely held misperception that technology can “engineer-out” human error and share examples of ways technology can and should be leveraged to save lives. Chair Homendy will close by sharing the NTSB’s belief that even one transportation death is too many, which is why we must embrace the call to action shared by MIT Professor Nancy Leveson: “Human error is a symptom of a system that needs to be redesigned.”


The Honorable Jennifer Homendy [Pronounced: HAH-mendy] was sworn in as the 15th Chair of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on August 13, 2021, after being nominated by the President and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. She is the fourth woman to serve as Chair since the agency was created in 1967.

A tireless advocate for safety, Chair Homendy has spent over two decades supporting the critical safety mission of the NTSB, the independent federal agency charged by Congress with investigating every civil aviation accident in the United States and significant events in the other modes of transportation: railroad, transit, highway, marine, pipeline, and commercial space. The agency determines the probable causes of the accidents and events it investigates, and issues safety recommendations aimed at preventing future occurrences.

Chair Homendy has served as the agency’s 44th Board Member since August 2018, where she has debated and approved numerous investigation reports, provided expert testimony at the federal and state levels on a wide range of transportation safety issues, and launched with the NTSB “Go Team” on numerous investigations. While a Member of the Board, Chair Homendy reviewed and debated recommendations that would ensure that the National Air Space continues to be the safest in the world.

Ensuring the NTSB workforce is ready for the future of transportation safety is among her top priorities. Under Chair Homendy’s leadership, the agency is ensuring its readiness to investigate accidents, crashes, and incidents involving emerging technologies in all modes of transportation. This includes advanced driver assist systems, automated vehicles, commercial space transportation, uncrewed aircraft systems, advanced air mobility, supersonic aircraft, high-speed ground transportation, and clean energy sources to fuel vehicles.

Prior to the NTSB, Chair Homendy served as the Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials under the jurisdiction of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the U.S. House of Representatives. In that role, she successfully advocated for the inclusion of NTSB safety recommendations in relevant legislation.

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