Archive for December, 2010

FAA Certifies Santa’s NextGen-Equipped Sleigh for Christmas Eve

Monday, December 20th, 2010

WASHINGTON – Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety inspectors at the North Pole certified Santa One, the reindeer-powered sleigh piloted by Santa Claus, for its Christmas Eve round-the-world delivery mission.

Santa One, led by Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, is outfitted with new satellite-based NextGen technology, which will allow Santa to deliver more toys to more children with improved safety and efficiency.

“Children around the world will get their gifts on time, regardless of the weather, thanks to NextGen,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We’re proud to say NextGen is bringing Santa Claus to town.”

Rudolph’s red nose has been outfitted with avionics that will broadcast Santa One’s position via satellites to air traffic controllers around the world with improved accuracy, integrity and reliability.

“Santa’s cockpit display will help improve his situational awareness by showing him and his reindeer flight crew their precise location in relation to other aircraft, bad weather and terrain,” said FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. “NextGen will help make this an extra-safe Christmas Eve.”

The sleigh’s onboard systems have been upgraded with state-of-the-art, NextGen technology that will allow Santa One to maintain cruising altitude for as long as possible before making a continuous descent into cities and towns around the world. While maneuvering on rooftops, an advanced, onboard runway safety system will help reduce the risk of incursions between the sleigh and chimneys.

Santa’s reindeer-powered sleigh is already energy-efficient, but the NextGen technologies will further reduce Santa One’s carbon hoofprint. The shorter, faster routings means that Rudolph and the other reindeer will consume less hay, resulting in fewer greenhouse gases.

Unlike any other pilot, Santa has special permission from the FAA to fly thousands of domestic and international short-haul and long-range flights in one night. In keeping with the FAA’s science-based proposal to give pilots more rest, Santa will arrange his flight plan based on his circadian rhythm. Mrs. Claus also assured FAA safety inspectors that she’ll make sure he gets plenty of rest before the flight on Christmas Eve.

Follow Santa’s progress on Christmas Eve at the NORAD Tracks Santa website: www.noradsanta.org

See how NextGen is going to improve the safety and efficiency of Santa’s rooftop descents: http://www.faa.gov/go/santa

President Proclaims National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

President Barack Obama, recently issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring this month as, ‘National Impaired Driving Prevention Month.’ In the proclamation, President Obama urges citizens to use caution when driving and to be sure to be sober, drug free and safe on the road.

“My Administration is dedicated to strengthening efforts against drunk, drugged, and distracted driving. To lead by example, we have implemented a nationwide ban prohibiting Federal employees from texting while driving on Government business or when using a Government device. This holiday season, the United States Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also sponsoring the campaign, “Drunk Driving: Over the Limit. Under Arrest.” Thousands of police departments and law enforcement agencies across the Nation will redouble their efforts to ensure impaired drivers are detected and appropriate action is taken. Additionally, the Office of National Drug Control Policy is working with Federal agencies to raise public awareness about the high prevalence of drugged driving in our country, and to provide resources for parents of new drivers about how to talk to their children about drugs.”

The full text of the proclaimation can be found here.

NHTSA Reports Increased Drug Use Among Deceased Drivers in Fatal Crashes

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

In a new report on drug use by drivers involved in America’s fatal crashes, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported post-mortem testing results showing an increase in the level of drug involvement among fatally injured drivers over a five-year period from 2005 to 2009.

Drug involvement does not mean the driver was impaired or that drug use was the cause of the crash.

According to data compiled by NHTSA, 63 percent of the 21,798 drivers who were killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2009 were tested for drugs. Of these, 3,952 tested positive for drug involvement, representing 18 percent of the total for that year. The report also showed drug use reported by the states among fatally injured drivers increasing from 13 percent in 2005, to 15 percent in 2006, 16 percent in 2007, and 18 percent in 2008.

The drug data was collected by NHTSA as part of its Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and included information collected from the states under three broad categories: whether the driver was tested, the type of test conducted, and the test results. The types of drugs recorded in FARS include narcotics, depressants, stimulants, hallucinogens, cannabinoids, phencyclidines (PCPs), anabolic steroids, and inhalants. The groups include both illicit drugs, as well as legally prescribed drugs and over-the-counter medicines.

In announcing the drug findings, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland offered some cautions, including the fact that drug test results are unavailable for a large portion of fatally injured drivers. He noted also that there was a wide variance among states regarding the extent of drug testing conducted.