Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board
Closing Remarks
Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Substance-Impaired Driving
Washington, DC - May 16, 2012
(As Prepared for Delivery)


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

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, many thanks to the NTSB team for the great work putting this forum together.

Yes, it should be as simple as don't use alcohol or drugs and then get behind the wheel.

But, as we have discussed, after someone has made a bad decision, the complexity of the interventions depends on the offender. But this is about more than addiction. There has been so much focus over the years on hard core drinkers. But they aren't the only ones who are driving impaired.

Many people, too many people, are making bad choices - to drive when impaired, to ride with those who are impaired, or allow the impaired to get behind the wheel. We are all responsible for the society we live in, the words we use, the decisions we make, and the actions we take.

One thing is clear from our discussion over the last two days: Getting to zero will be a tremendous challenge. As many panelists observed, impaired driving is complex; if the solution to the problem was easy, we wouldn't be here this week.

We heard from many people working hard every day in their fields to address impaired driving; however all acknowledged that we continue to see too many needless tragedies.

More than 300,000 lives lost since we investigated that crash in Carrollton, Kentucky.

Each life precious. Each crash preventable.

We must continue to question if what we are doing works-if the consequences of impaired driving are certain, swift and severe.

Some interventions have demonstrated success - we need to support and expand those efforts. In other areas, we need better data or new efforts, such as drugged driving. But, there is great promise in new technology that can offer a universal solution to separate the impaired from their vehicles to prevent the alcohol impaired driver from endangering others.

In my opening statement yesterday morning, I talked about the lives lost in the Carrollton crash. About Mary Catheryn, Anthony, and Shannon.

For Mary Catheryn, Anthony, and Shannon, and for all those hundreds of thousands of other lives tragically - and senselessly - cut short and the millions of people injured, we must come together and say enough is enough.

We stand adjourned.