Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Closing Statement
Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board
Washington, DC – June 4, 2013
Safety Study – Characteristics of Single-Unit Truck Accidents Resulting in Injuries and Deaths
(As Prepared for Delivery)

In closing, I want to recognize the NTSB staff for their hard work in bringing this safety study to the Board, in particular, the staff from the Office of Research and Engineering. The safety study team under the leadership of Dr. Elisa Braver and Dr. Ivan Cheung did an outstanding job.

This is an important study that provides an important public service about the risks to be found in our neighborhoods and across our communities from single-unit trucks.

The study also makes a crucial distinction. So often when we record the results and repercussions of motor vehicle crashes we focus on loss of life, which is indeed tragic. But so many, far too many, crashes leave people alive but with life-altering injuries, injuries that cause pain and suffering, take time out of their lives, reduce earning power and do more harm.

Furthermore, the adverse effects of single-unit truck crashes have been underestimated in federal and state databases due to misclassification in police accident reports. This is important since previous safety policy has been based on inaccurate and lower numbers.

When it comes to single-unit truck safety, we can do better for our citizens and their safety. And, it’s not as complicated as changing behavior and norms. This is why are issuing safety recommendations to bring these vehicles more in line with the safety requirements of tractor-trailer trucks – including requiring rear underride protection on new trucks and using methods and materials to makes these vehicles more visible – more conspicuous.

To protect pedestrians and cyclists, we have the technology to address blind spots, which can be as simple as installing better mirrors.

We are also calling for improved data. As we know and have heard many times, “You cannot manage what you cannot measure.”

When it comes to reaching zero deaths on our highways, we have to name the problem, correctly identify necessary countermeasures and make the needed changes to eliminate the risks. Only then will the death toll on our roadways be reduced – one crash, one fatality and one injury at a time.

We stand adjourned.