By Debbie Hersman
This is Critical Infrastructure Protection and Resilience Month. This December, President Obama has called Americans across the country to maintain our commitment to keeping our critical infrastructure and our communities safe and resilient. In his proclamation, the President reminded us that, “Our Nation’s critical infrastructure is complex and interconnected, and we must understand not only its strengths, but also its vulnerabilities to emerging threats.”
At the NTSB, we focus on one part of that infrastructure – transportation. Every day, Americans rely on transportation infrastructure to take children to school, travel to work, take vacations and to obtain daily necessities, including food, clothing and energy. We know firsthand how important our transportation infrastructure can be to families and communities, as so many of our fellow citizens experienced in New Jersey and New York after the devastating effects of Super Storm Sandy.
The absolute importance of transportation to our economy and quality of life is why preserve the integrity of our transportation infrastructure is on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List.
What should be done to preserve our transportation infrastructure? Our accident investigations have revealed that inspection guidance that incorporates all elements of the structure, proper maintenance and use of available technologies all have a role to play. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that whenever decisions are being made about infrastructure, safety must have a seat at the table.
Here’s a snapshot of the scope of our nation’s infrastructure: In 2010, 4.2 trillion passenger miles were traveled on our nation’s roadways. Domestic freight traffic carried by air, truck, rail, water and pipeline totaled more than 4.3 trillion ton-miles. That means there are literally trillions of reasons to maintain the integrity of our roads, runways, waterways, rails and pipelines.