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NTSB to Address Impact of Alcohol and Drug Impairment in Transportation on Public Health
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 NTSB to Address Impact of Alcohol and Drug Impairment in Transportation on Public Health

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 Public Health,”

Date: Monday, November 2, 2015

Time: 10:30am-12:00pm

Location: McCormick 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 on wheels.”

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 annually.

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 Hartenbaum.

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.

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Contact: NTSB Media Relations
490 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20594
Terry Williams
(202) 314-6100
Terry.williams@ntsb.gov

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