Remarks of Mark V. Rosenker, Chairman
National Transportation Safety Board
National Automobile Dealers Association
Executive Committee Meeting
Tysons Corner, Virginia
December 5, 2007
Thank you, Chairman Willey. It is a privilege to be with you this morning. The National Transportation Safety Board has worked successfully in the past with the National Automobile Dealers Association on several safety initiatives that I will mention in a moment.
First, I want to provide you with a bit of insight into who we are. The NTSB is a very small, independent, federal agency with five Board Members, appointed by the President, and confirmed by the Senate—we’re talking less than 400 people in the entire agency.
Although we are best known for aviation accident investigations and recommendations, we cover all transportation modes—rail, highway, marine and pipeline. One of our current high profile highway investigations is the collapse of the Interstate-35 West Bridge in Minneapolis. Another high profile highway investigation was the ceiling collapse of the Interstate-90 Connector in Boston.
Our mission in these investigations, and all our investigations, is to determine probable cause and issue recommendations to prevent their recurrence. NTSB cannot mandate implementation of our recommendations, nor do we have grant funds to encourage their adoption
Now let me focus on our recommendations. This is where we can work together to save lives. We have a Most Wanted List of Safety Improvements, which includes the need for booster seat laws in all States so that all children under age 8 are properly restrained, and the need for primary seat belt enforcement laws in all States. We need NADA’s help to reach our goals
I want to congratulate you on the success of your Boost Safety program, especially for your September is Child Passenger Safety Month initiative. Mr. Willey, I saw you in the video on the NADA web site. It is just what parents need.
We know it is not easy to install a child safety seat. That is why the seat checks you host are so important. Where written instructions and education materials have failed by themselves to ensure that child restraints are installed properly, fitting stations have succeeded.
More than 120 dealerships throughout the United States hosted check up events in September. There are more than 150 certified child restraint technicians at dealerships throughout the United States.
I know many of you have participated in child safety seat fitting stations. I commend you for these efforts. There is no greater reward than knowing that you have saved a child’s life and that is what all of you, and the dealerships and staff you represent, are so clearly dedicated to doing. And I thank you for that. I hope you will continue to offer this important service to your customers and your communities.
Moving to another important issue, last week I was able to honor the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign, of which NADA was an important part. I sent a letter to NADA President Phil Brady, and the other funders, congratulating them for what was a remarkable public-private partnership. Let me summarize for you what that partnership achieved, for it is really admirable.
It helped to bring about a cultural shift in the way children age 12 and under are transported in vehicles—in a rear seat. This change in societal behavior rivals the changes in attitudes toward smoking and drunk driving.
It took the “Click It or Ticket” program nationwide, fostered a massive national annual mobilization to enforce seat belt use laws, led the effort for adoption of primary enforcement seat belt use laws that now cover about two-thirds of the U.S. population, and helped to achieve a national seat belt use rate of more than 82 percent, a 21-percentage-point increase.
The result of all this work is countless lives saved and injuries prevented. It is difficult to think of a more important outcome—or a more noble cause to support.
Thank you for recognizing the impact that dealers have on the driving public and for dedicating your resources—financial and professional—to this endeavor. The campaign may be over, but our work is not.
We need help in California, Iowa, South Carolina, and Texas to pass booster seat laws that apply to children up to age 8 in their States. We need help in Kansas and Pennsylvania and to pass a primary enforcement law in your state. We need help in Colorado, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire and Utah to pass booster seat laws that apply to children up to age 8 and primary enforcement laws.
Mr. Tulley, we were in your state of new Hampshire this year trying to get a seat belt law passed. We will be back as often as you need us.
In the few minutes I have left, I wanted to mention what I think is the next frontier in preventing crashes and reducing injuries–it deals with preventing collisions with enhanced vehicle safety technology. You are seeing this technology in cars today.
Just last month the NTSB added this issue to our Most Wanted List. The NTSB is urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to act more quickly in setting performance standards for collision warning and adaptive cruise control systems and mandating them in all new commercial and passenger vehicles.
Here’s why. In a two-year period, the NTSB investigated 9 rear-end collisions in which 20 people died and 181 were injured. Three of the accidents involved buses and one accident involved 24 vehicles. Common to all nine accidents was the rear-following vehicle driver’s degraded perception of traffic conditions ahead before striking other vehicles.
We found that these accidents did not involve the use of drugs, alcohol, or vehicle mechanical defects. The investigations showed that sun glare, fog, smoke, fatigue, distractions, and work zones interfered with a driver’s ability to detect slow-moving or stopped traffic ahead and resulted in rear-end collisions.
U.S. Department of Transportation preliminary analyses that have shown that 1,836,000 police-reported crashes, or about 48 percent of accidents, could be prevented by rear-end or run-off-the-road and lane change collision warning systems.
I can't think of any other set of technologies that holds as much potential for improving motor vehicle safety than collision warning and adaptive cruise control systems.
Finally, and most important, I want to recognize and thank you for all you do individually, at your dealerships, and as an organization to educate your communities and to make all our citizens safer. Thank you.