Thursday, June 4, 2015 | Washington, D.C.
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
Thursday, June 4, 2015
As Prepared for Delivery
Welcome, everyone, to the Department of Transportation. It’s June on the calendar, but November in the skies, and we’re grateful to you for braving the weather to join us today. Whether you are a safety advocate, a congressional staffer, a representative of industry or a DOT employee, thank you for coming.
My name is Mark Rosekind, and I am the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. We’re here today to celebrate success and to pledge continued progress in a key area of our safety mission – the fight against drunk driving. This has been a core effort for decades at NHTSA, and we have met with great success. But we’re not satisfied, which is why we’re using every tool available to us – strong laws, vigorous education and enforcement efforts, and as we’re here to discuss today, the highest of high tech.
The wondrous machinery before you is the product of DADSS, the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety. I could talk for hours about this effort. But we thought we’d introduce DADSS to you with a short video – a film about a potential future in which we can stop drunk driving with a single breath or the touch of a finger. Have a look.
So that’s our goal. And the message today is that this effort is no longer a matter of “Can we do this?” It’s “How soon can we do it?” Through great effort, we’ve made great progress. You can see from the prototypes before you how far we’ve come. And today, in public for the first time, we have the first prototype vehicle equipped with mock-up DADSS technology. This vehicle will help us test driver interactions with DADSS technology, improving its performance and usability. It’s a huge step forward, and we’re proud to unveil it today.
We could not have made this progress without help from many places, and our speakers today will show how broad this effort is. Nothing has been more important than the support of Congress, which has provided crucial funding since the beginning of this effort. Our first speaker, Senator Tom Udall, has been instrumental in securing that support, and we are proud he has joined us here today. Ladies and gentlemen, Senator Tom Udall.
Senator, thank you for your support. As I mentioned, Senator Udall and others in Congress have helped move DADSS forward. But we know there is more work to do. Which is why the continued support you discussed is so vital. While Senator Udall has worked hard on his side of the Capital, DADSS has strong support in the House as well, and a major player in building that support has been Congresswoman Nita Lowey, and we’re so glad she has joined us here today. Congresswoman Lowey.
At NHTSA, we like our work. We like cool technology, and we enjoy working with people like Congresswoman Lowey and Senator Udall in Congress to make it happen. But we never lose sight of the fact that this is not about programs or numbers. It’s about lives. In 2013, we lost 10,076 lives to drunk driving. Every one of them is precious. And for 35 years, Mothers Against Drunk Driving has been the human face of those tragic losses. The MADD volunteers who join us today from across the country are powerful voices fighting this deadly epidemic. Our next speaker, Colleen Sheehey-Church, knows the cost of drunk driving. And she has dedicated all her strength to fight it. Ladies and gentlemen, MADD’s national president, Colleen Sheehy-Church.
Colleen, thank you. DADSS has passion behind it, in Congress and across America. But success requires more than passion. We need know-how. Since its inception, DADSS has been a public-private partnership. Through the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety, DADSS is tapped into the best minds in industry. We’re joined by Rob Strassburger, the president and CEO of ACTS and the man with the keys to that prototype car. Please welcome Rob Strassburger.
Rob, thank you. So this is a team effort, and we at DOT are enormously proud to play on this team. Many of the NHTSA and DoT employees here today have worked long and hard to bring DADSS to this point. I can tell you they are dedicated to completing the hard work yet before us. And they do so with tremendous support from the top of our department. Secretary Foxx is a believer in transforming our transportation system, and technology is a major part of his vision. And no one at DOT has been more instrumental in helping implement that vision than our next speaker, our deputy secretary, Victor Mendez.
Thank you. A couple of reminders – the technology here will be on display for a while before it heads back to the lab. Please stop by and thank the experts who have joined us today for their hard work. MADD is sponsoring a reception with light refreshments along the Transportation Walk around the corner, and I know they’d appreciate it if you stopped by. And for media in attendance, several speakers will be available to talk more about DADSS.
Thank you all for coming, and thank you for your work to end drunk driving.