To reach more communities and advance equity in its traffic safety programs, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) held an innovative Equity and Engagement in Traffic Safety Summit on May 2 in Jefferson City. More than 50 government and nonprofit organization officials, local pastors, college professors, law enforcement and other community leaders from across the state traveled to the capitol city for an open dialogue about traffic safety and what should be done to make roads safer for everyone.
The Summit kicked off with introductions and an icebreaker designed to foster creative thinking and conversation. The participants were than briefed on the state of traffic safety in Missouri and nationally, which included a discussion of how people of color are disproportionately impacted by crashes. Presentations from Dean Scott, Program Manager at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, MoDOT Highway Safety and Traffic Division Director Jon Nelson and MSHP Captain John Hotz gave attendees an overview of current trends in traffic safety and dangerous driving, offering valuable context for the discussion that followed.
Jon Nelson (L) and Captain John Hotz (R)
After a lunch break that provided the opportunity to share and collaborate, attendees broke into four groups. Each group was asked to identify traffic safety problems in their communities, explain why the problem exists, determine what countermeasures and strategies should be put in place, consider who needs to hear the safety message and what that message should be, and propose the most effective way to convey that message to community members. The attendees then came back together to hear each group’s traffic safety concerns and potential solutions. A common issue echoed by the groups was the need to get more community members involved in traffic safety to voice their concerns.
A breakout group discusses their traffic safety concerns (L) and a spokesperson shares what her breakout group discussed (R).
Collaboration and action were a key Summit theme highlighted in presentations and breakout discussions as well as in casual conversations between attendees. For example, officials from the Mexican Consulate office located in Kansas City offered to provide accurate Spanish translations for safety messages and include those messages in their outreach efforts. A professional video producer offered to use his connections to recruit high-profile musicians to promote safe driving to their followers on social media. Pastors of Black and Hispanic churches said they would share traffic safety resources with their parishioners.
Nelson and Hotz wrapped up the day by stressing the Summit was a first step and that MoDOT and the MSHP are committed to continued outreach, engagement and collaboration. Missouri’s summit is a model for other states and communities to emulate as they work to change the safety culture on U.S. roads, give everyone a voice in the roadway safety dialogue and ensure traffic safety programs and resources reach those who need them the most.
Attendees of the inaugural Missouri Equity and Engagement in Traffic Safety Summit.