Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board
Closing Remarks
Attentive Driving Forum: Countermeasures to Distraction
Washington, DC - March 27, 2012
(As Prepared for Delivery)


On behalf of my fellow Board members, I want to thank everyone who has participated in this forum - our panelists, our exhibitors, and the many advocates who are here today.

As for the panelists, we greatly appreciate the effort you took to provide us with informative and thought-provoking presentations and to answer our many questions. And, thanks to the NTSB team for the great work putting this forum together.

One thing is clear from today's discussion: We have got to stop kidding ourselves about the human ability to multi-task. Distraction is real. It can be deadly. That is why this forum focused on attentive driving and countermeasures.

It used to be that the norm was an attentive driver with occasional distractions - but, today, distractions are competing full-time for the driver's attention.

Our society needs renewed respect for the driving task and for the responsibility - the privilege - of driving.

Americans think of cars as tools of mobility and freedom. Yet, we know from the thirty-three thousand fatalities every year on our roadways, driving a two-ton vehicle at highway speeds is not a task to take lightly.

That's a lesson to be drawn from today's forum: Taking driving seriously and putting seriousness - as well as attention - back into the driver's seat.

Achieving the goal of attentive driving can be done, and it can be done effectively as we heard this morning about the work - and the very real progress - in places like California.

This type of change needs to take seed at the grassroots level. It is going to happen in the boardroom ... it going to happen in communities ... and it's going to happen at the family dinner table.

Yes, we need to change behavior - one company, one community, and one person at a time.

We can start right now. To all of you who told me earlier that you had more than one cell phone, Blackberry, or Smartphone, what will it to take to change your behavior?

Pledge with me, as we have here at the Safety Board, not to ever use those devices when driving.

I have said this before. I will say it again: No call, no text, no update is worth a human life.

We stand adjourned.