Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Closing Statement
Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC - December 11, 2012
Highway Accident Report - Highway-Railroad Grade Crossing Collision
Miriam, NV - June 24, 2011
(As Prepared for Delivery)


In closing, I want to recognize the NTSB staff for their hard work in bringing this report to the Board, in particular, the staff from the Office of Highway Safety, from the Office of Railroad, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Investigations and from the Office of Research and Engineering. Robert Acetta, Investigator-in-Charge, and his team did an outstanding job.

Today, in the United States there are millions of commercial trucks and millions of commercial drivers logging hundreds of billions of miles each year on our highways. Many of the drivers, like the driver in this crash who had as many as 30 jobs over the 10 years prior to the crash, are hired by companies with insufficient information to make informed hiring decisions.

Trucks and trucking are vital to our economy and to our way of life - transporting some two-thirds of our nation's freight tonnage. Time and time again the Board's reports have uncovered two critical pieces to the crash causation puzzle when it comes to heavy truck crashes - the driver and the vehicle. Both are critical to preventing crashes.

This crash could have been easily prevented if the driver had acted appropriately or if the motor carrier had acted responsibly in maintaining the vehicle.

This is why we issued recommendations to increase the information available to companies when hiring drivers, enhance driver awareness of degraded brakes and ensure mechanics use proper procedures when maintaining brakes.

What Henry Ford said years ago is still true today: "Quality means doing it right when no one is looking."

We stand adjourned.