Honorable Deborah Hersman, NTSB Board Member

Acting Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board
Opening Remarks
Acting Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board Back to School
Transportation Safety Demonstration and Car Seat Check
August 15, 2013, Rockville, Maryland
(Remarks as prepared for delivery)


Good Morning. Thank you, Mr. [Jack] Fitzgerald, for the kind introduction.

We are all familiar with the expression, "It takes a village to raise a child." Keeping our children safe on the roadways is no exception, and I'm pleased to recognize several people in our safety village today: Congressman Chris Van Hollen; Mr. Todd Watkins, Director of Transportation for Montgomery County Public Schools; Captain Tom Didone with the Montgomery County Police Department; Emilie Crown and the men and women of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service; and our host, Mr. Jack Fitzgerald.

Over the next few weeks about 50 million students will begin a new school year. Here, in Montgomery County, in just a few days, more than 150,000 students will head back to school on buses, on bikes, on foot, as passengers, and some as drivers in their own cars. No matter how our students go to school, they need to go safely.

At the NTSB, we investigate transportation accidents, and we often see tragic outcomes involving kids. Every day lives are senselessly cut short in traffic crashes.

The NTSB is committed to reaching zero deaths on our nation's roadways. We know that educating the public and participating in safety events like today are vital. Unfortunately, young children do not have the time and experience dealing with traffic safety, so they rely on adults to teach them. We all have a safety role.

First, I strongly encourage families to talk to their children and make safety a priority. Second, if your children will be walking or biking to school, talk them about how to safely use sidewalks or paths, and about the importance of using traffic signals and crosswalks. Third, for parents, adopt a driving policy to limit the risks. You can do this by restricting other teen passengers, limiting their nighttime driving, and prohibiting them from using wireless communication devices behind the wheel.

Finally, a message to all drivers: be safe around school buses, in neighborhoods during school hours, and in school zones. As school starts again, please allow for extra time in the morning and be patient when school buses are loading and unloading children. Most importantly, make sure that you are completely focused on the driving task and not distracted by the use of a wireless communication device.

Thank you.