Name: Jana Price

Position: Senior human performance investigator, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)

Best known for: The annual number of highway fatalities attributed to alcohol impairment has been reduced by half in the past three decades, but drinking still is linked to about one-third of vehicle deaths every year. Hoping to cut back on the 10,000 deaths and 173,000 injuries caused each year by the use of alcohol, Price led a yearlong NTSB study that examined and identified steps that states could take to curb the problem.

Price convened a forum that included experts from the advocacy community, academia and federal and state governments to discuss the most effective countermeasures available. The result was the report, “Reaching Zero: Actions to Eliminate Alcohol-Impaired Driving,” which outlines 19 safety recommendations that the NTSB hopes will spur state legislative action to “achieve meaningful reductions in alcohol-impaired driving crashes.”

NTSB investigator Jana Price: she’s on a mission to curb drunken driving fatalities and injuries. (Courtesy of NTSB)

The proposals include reducing the allowable blood-alcohol concentration for drivers from the current 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent or lower; increasing the use of high-visibility enforcement; developing and deploying in-vehicle detection technology; requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted offenders; targeting and addressing repeat offenders; and reinforcing the use of innovative adjudication programs.

“Jana produced a comprehensive package that can bring about change and seriously reduce the number of impaired driving deaths on the road,” said Rob Molloy, deputy director of the NTSB’s Office of Highway Safety.

Government work: Price has worked at the NTSB since 2001 investigating ways to eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries. She has served as the human performance investigator on major motorcoach and truck accidents concerning driver fatigue, distraction and medical issues. She also co-created a NTSB training course for investigators on examining fatigue issues in accident investigations. Early in her federal career, Price conducted studies to evaluate the performance of airbags in general aviation aircraft and aided NASA’s Columbia Space Shuttle Accident Investigation Board.

Motivation for service: Price’s graduate school research examined truck driver rest patterns and fatigue issues, and she realized at that point that traffic safety was important to her. “When I was offered the opportunity to do research and accident investigation at the NTSB, I knew that I had found my dream job,” she said.

Biggest challenge: The slow pace of policy change can be frustrating to Price. For more than a decade, the NTSB has pushed for regulatory changes to reduce transportation worker fatigue. While some progress has been made, Price said some in the transportation industry still have not imposed safer working hour limits or adequately addressed sleep disorder detection and treatment for commercial vehicle operators.

Quote: “NTSB has a very tenured history of addressing alcohol-impaired driving. We wanted to revisit what has been done, reinvigorate the dialogue and put alcohol- and drug-impaired driving on our most-wanted list.”

— From the Partnership for Public Service

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