National Transportation Safety Board Vice
Chairman Bella Dinh-Zarr, PhD, MPH, will represent the agency in a discussion
on substance-impaired driving at the American Public Health Association’s
Annual Meeting in Chicago on November 2. More than 12,000 public health
professionals from around the world will attend the meeting.
Event: APHA Annual
Meeting Session: “Drugs, Alcohol, and Transportation: A Risky Combination for
Date: Monday, November
Place Convention Center 2301 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago, IL
“Impairment on our highways remains a preventable public health threat that
kills thousands of Americans every year,” said Dinh-Zarr, who is a trained
public health scientist, specializing in injury prevention. “It is an epidemic
Motor vehicle crashes continue to be a leading cause of unintentional injury
deaths in the United States. For decades, alcohol-impaired driving has been a
factor in nearly one-third of all those deaths, killing more than 10,000 people
However, equally alarming is a recent study which found nearly 10 million
people report driving under the influence of illicit drugs. The recent
(2013-2014) national roadside survey of alcohol and drug use by drivers found
more than one in five drivers tested positive for one or more potentially
impairing drugs, including illicit, prescription, and over-the-counter drugs.
“Decades of work have been done to combat drinking and driving, and that work
must continue,” Dinh-Zarr said. “But drug impairment is an increasing public
safety concern in all modes of transportation.”
“Truly addressing impaired driving in this country will mean acknowledging all
of the substances that affect driver performance," said Deborah A.P.
Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council and the former
chairman of the NTSB. “I look forward to discussing this issue with some of the
nation’s leading experts - their work will help create a roadmap to save lives
and prevent injuries.”
Alcohol impairment has been an area of focus since the first Most Wanted List
was issued in 1990, but in 2013, based on findings from accident investigations
in several modes, the NTSB recognized the need to expand the issue to
substance-impairment in transportation.
Vice Chairman Dinh-Zarr’s session, entitled “Drugs, Alcohol, and
Transportation: A Risky Combination for Public Health,” will be moderated by
NTSB Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mary Pat McKay. In addition to Ms. Hersman, it
will also feature OccuMedix President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Natalie
The panel participants will discuss effective ways to reduce the incidence of
substance use by operators of all types of vehicles, and with it, the risk of
injuries and deaths.