Speeches and Presentations

Talking points: 13th Annual Texas 26th Congressional District's Transportation Summit

Dr. Mark R. Rosekind , NHTSA Administrator

Monday, November 23, 2015 | Denton, texas

Mark R. Rosekind, Ph.D.
Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
U.S. Department of Transportation
Denton, Texas
Monday, November 23, 2015
As Prepared for Delivery

  • I. Chairman Burgess, thank you for invitation
    • NHTSA always appreciates your concern for safety and your willingness to listen.
    • It's always clear when it comes to safety issues, you have your constituents here in Texas as top priority.
  • II. It's always a good time to talk safety, but this is especially well-timed
    • Of course, Congress is working to finalize surface transportation bill with big implications for safety.
    • There is both good news and reason for caution in recent highway safety data.
    • Looking only a bit further down the road, we're on the cusp of a transformative moment in how we think about protecting road users, reducing injuries, saving lives.
    • I will touch on three areas: current state of road safety; how NHTSA is strengthening core behavioral and vehicle safety programs; new frontiers of highway safety and NHTSA's role in accelerating advances.
  • III. The picture today: progress and warning signs
    • Take moment to appreciate what Americans have accomplished together.
      1. Traffic fatalities down 25 percent in the last decade, despite population and VMT growth.
      2. Thanks to: government at all levels, vehicle manufacturers, nongovernmental advocacy groups and every single American driver.
    • Should we be satisfied? No. The only acceptable highway safety goal is zero deaths. From A to B safely, every single time.
      1. Understand Texas officials are concerned about trends here.
      2. Data from first three months of 2015 showed increase from previous year.
      3. We will release data for first six months later this week, but bottom line: incremental drops are unsatisfying, increases unacceptable.
  • IV. So what is NHTSA doing to confront these challenges?
    • Strengthening vehicle safety programs
      1. Defect recall system changes were my top priority on arrival.
      2. OIG audit identified needed changes, but even before that, our own internal reviews had identified important process improvements.
      3. Have instituted efforts on more than 45 improvements, including commitment to all 17 OIG recommendations by June.
      4. Outside team of safety experts, such as NTSB and NASA, advising and validating improvements.
      5. Focus on recall completion: retooling recalls summit.
      6. One example: groundbreaking use of enforcement authority to take unprecedented steps on Takata inflators recalls.
      7. Other vehicle safety improvements: rulemaking (ESC for trucks), leadership (school bus seat belts -- Houston!) ongoing research efforts.
    • Strengthening behavioral safety programs
      1. Another top priority and heart of safety mission: 94 percent of fatal crashes result from human choices or errors.
      2. New initiatives
        • a) First ever seat belt campaign aimed at parents of tweens.
        • b) Daylong symposium on cognitive distraction.
        • c) First every drowsy driving initiative -- seeking better data, targeting vulnerable populations, exploring countermeasure both high-tech (algorithms) and low (rumble strips).
      3. More to come
        • a) Announcement soon on nationwide series of meetings to solicit groundbreaking ideas on behavioral side, culminating in DC meeting.
        • b) Announced at GHSA this summer: exploring ways to identify best practices in states and encourage their use.
    • Accelerating the future
      1. Fast approaching pivot point in automotive history, from old philosophy (crashes inevitable, safety=less carnage) to new era (stop crash from ever occurring).
      2. Connected automation
        • a) Guidance from Secretary Foxx: if it makes roads safer, we want it here faster.
        • b) NHTSA examining regulatory framework to identify obstacles to safety innovation.
        • c) Automation has real potential to address that 94 percent.
        • d) V2V is important part of strategy.
          • (1) Unique capabilities -- around corners, through traffic.
          • (2) Unique role for government, one industry has encouraged.
          • (3) Prevent 600,000 crashes, save 1,000 lives a year.
      3. Innovation is more than self-driving cars: DADSS.
  • V. Conclusion
    • Enormously proud of NHTSA's people. Every time I challenge, they deliver.
    • But they know enormous challenges ahead.
    • We can no longer accept slow progress with occasional bumps in the road.
    • We are not willing to accept vision for highway safety that tolerates risk for any of you or your loved ones.
    • Only acceptable goal for highway safety is saving every one of those lives. From A to B safely every time.
    • That's why we're using every tool we have, and developing new ones when we need, to protect the lives of the American people we serve.