Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board
Closing Remarks
Safety Report
Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Alcohol-Impaired Driving
Washington, DC — May 14, 2013
(As Prepared for Delivery)


In closing, I want to recognize the NTSB staff for their hard work in bringing this safety report to the Board, in particular, the staff from the Office of Highway Safety, the Office of Research and Engineering, and the Office of Communications. The report team, under the leadership of Dr. Jana Price, did an outstanding job outlining the scope of the problems, summarizing efforts to address them and developing recommendations to reduce deaths and injuries.

As I said earlier, each year there are 10,000 deaths, 10,000 reasons to tackle this persistent problem. In the last 30 years, more than 440,000 people have perished in this country due to alcohol-impaired driving. What will be our legacy 30 years from now? Will policymakers have made some hard choices or will there be 300,000 more lives senselessly cut short and 5 million more people needlessly injured?

And, if we don't tackle alcohol-impaired driving now, when will we find the will to do so?

We can choose to accept senseless and needless losses. Or, we can choose to act.

The recommendations we issue today outline a set of targeted interventions that, if followed, will prevent crashes, reduce injuries and save lives. Our recommendations call for stronger laws, swifter enforcement, and expanded use of technology. And, we call for setting goals and measuring results. That's how to succeed in any great endeavor - set an ambitious goal and track progress.

Today, we know that impairment starts with the first drink. By 0.05 most drivers experience diminished visual function, increased drowsiness, and reduced vigilance, producing a greater crash risk.

Reaching zero and eliminating deaths and injuries from alcohol-impaired driving will be challenging. No one says it will be easy. But, the solution can be disarmingly simple.

Buzzed or blitzed, it doesn't matter what you call it, if you're drinking, don't drive.

We stand adjourned.