Shrapnel that flies from an exploding airbag; a lance-like highway guardrail that pierces a crashing car; a malfunctioning ignition switch that sends a car hurdling into speeding traffic; a sleep-deprived tractor-trailer driver who rams into a car and kills its occupants. These horrific incidents make daily headlines in what has been described as a series of safety crises in the transportation industry. Unfortunately, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (N.H.T.S.A.) has been slow to take action to protect the public from these serious dangers.That may be about to change with a new leader at the agency’s helm.
President Obama has nominated an unusual candidate, Mark R. Rosekind, as chief of the N.H.T.S.A. Often this position goes to a person from the automotive industry or from within the agency. Mr. Rosekind currently occupies a position on the National Transportation Safety Board (N.T.S.B.) and is a specialist in human fatigue. The members of the N.T.S.B. regularly butt heads with auto industry executives because of the expensive safety recommendations it often proposes. Mr. Rosekind won even more critics in 2013 with his recommendation that the blood alcohol concentration per se intoxication standard be set at .05 percent down from the existing level of .08 percent — a proposal I highly support.
Specialist in Fatigue, Circadian Rhythms, Drugs and Alcohol
Mr. Rosekind holds a doctorate in psychology and has focused his
attentions on the effects that fatigue, circadian rhythms, drugs and
alcohol have on drivers. In a February N.T.S.B. presentation, he made a
compelling argument for reducing the BAC per se limits.
He demonstrates through various DUI studies that lowering the
presumption of impairment from .10 to .08 BAC saves approximately 360
lives per year and that further lowering presumptive impairment to .05
BAC would save an additional 538 lives every year. Mr. Rosekind was not
afraid to fight for this important change in the law, despite its
Before joining the N.T.S.B., Mr. Rosekind founded Alertness Solutions,
which develops practical, science-based solutions to matters related to fatigue within the transportation, energy, health care, military,
public safety and other high-risk industries. He understands the serious risks imposed by sleep deprivation and has the knowledge to propose
realistic, effective resolutions.
A True Public Safety Advocate
Deborah A. P. Hersman,
a former chairwoman of the safety board, expressed her approval of Mr.
Rosekind’s nomination in a New York Times interview: “There’s no way
N.H.T.S.A. could bring in someone from the auto industry to lead the
agency at this point. They’ve got to have someone with a really strong
safety background who knows how to advocate for the public and who is a
Berenson Law regularly represents victims of DUI and fatigue-related auto crashes, as well as accidents resulting from corporate misconduct
and we have witnessed the devastating consequences. Mark R. Rosekind
has a big job ahead of him, but he seems to be the right choice for the
position. He is a strong public safety advocate who is not indebted to
auto industry players and not afraid to pursue real change in the face
of opposition. We wish him success in making our highways safer.