Automated Vehicles, Drugged Driving and Speeding Top Agenda as National Highway Safety Conference Launches

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News Releases

August 22, 2019

Contacts: Kara Macek, 202-789-0944 or Camille Travis, 916-509-3063

WASHINGTON, D.C. and ANAHEIM, Calif. – 750 of the nation’s top highway safety leaders will convene at the Anaheim Marriott next week for the Governors Highway Safety Association’s Annual Meeting, Imagine the Future: Advancing Traffic Safety through Technology and Innovation, occurring August 25-28. This year’s conference is the best-attended GHSA Annual Meeting in history and draws attendees from the federal and state governments, the private sector, law enforcement and the nonprofit sector to examine emerging topics and cutting-edge technology and consider innovative strategies and collaborations to reduce traffic crashes and fatalities.

The California Office of Traffic Safety is hosting the event as they welcome a new director, Barbara Rooney, who previously served as deputy director of legislation at the California High-Speed Rail Authority. California Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Rooney to the position earlier this week.

Nicole Nason, Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), will keynote the meeting on Monday, August 26, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Following Nason’s keynote, Nat Beuse, Head of Safety for Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group will speak. Nason will provide perspective on the Administration’s highway safety priorities and ongoing teamwork with states and communities, while Beuse will share Uber’s vision for self-driving vehicle deployment, its approach to safety in development and key considerations for law enforcement and other safety professionals.

Later that day, attendees will be inspired by Welcome Luncheon speaker, Chief Richard Picciotto, the highest-ranking firefighter to survive 9/11. Chief Picciotto will reflect on his harrowing experience that fateful day and offer an insider’s knowledge of how courage and training helped save numerous lives.

On Tuesday, August 27, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m., three prominent highway safety leaders will come together to discuss additional opportunities for collaboration:

  • Deborah A.P. Hersman, Chief Safety Officer for Waymo, will review the latest autonomous vehicle offerings and how states, law enforcement and other stakeholders can promote the safe use of advanced vehicle technologies.
  • Leah Shahum, Executive Director of Vision Zero, will discuss her organization’s latest successes and opportunities for deeper collaboration to take a systemic approach to implement life-saving changes on America’s roads.
  • Dr. Ben Nordstrom, Executive Director of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, will provide an update on the organization’s ongoing strategy to prevent impaired driving, particularly in relation to drug-impaired driving.

GHSA’s annual highway safety awards will be presented on Tuesday, August 27, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

A Speed Management Town Hall discussion on Wednesday, August 28, 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. will bring together experts representing the insurance industry, transportation engineers, law enforcement and advocacy groups to discuss how to collaborate to better move the needle on this critical but often overlooked traffic safety issue. Speakers include:

  • David Harkey, President, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety;
  • Melissa Wandall, President, National Coalition for Safer Roads;
  • Sarah Abel, Technical Program Manager, Institute of Transportation Engineers; and
  • Kevin Davis, Assistant Chief, California Highway Patrol.

Attendees will get a treat to close out the conference during a luncheon on Wednesday, August 28, 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., with a special presentation by America’s Best-Known Olympian, Mary Lou Retton. The gold medal-winning gymnast will inspire and motivate attendees as they reflect on the lessons learned at the meeting.

These general sessions will be reinforced by 15 breakout workshops tackling a variety of critical traffic safety topics, including pedestrian and bicyclist safety, next-generation challenges, distracted driving and creative partnerships. Additionally, more than 65 exhibitors will be on hand to share the latest highway safety products and services.

A detailed meeting agenda is available online. News media representatives should contact Kara Macek at or 202-789-0944 for press credentials. Many general session and workshop speakers will be available for interviews following their sessions.

Top-level companies and organizations providing support for this year’s meeting include AT&T, Check To Protect, Ford Driving Skills for Life, Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, Intel, LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, Lyft, Michelin, The National Road Safety Foundation, Inc., State Farm®, Toyota, Uber and Waymo. A full list of meeting sponsors and partners is available online.

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About GHSA

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit Find us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter @GHSAHQ.