Directions in Highway Safety: March/April 2024 Issue

Directions in Highway Safety
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GHSA Publication

Quick Links: 2024 Annual Meeting | Safety Roundup | Member Spotlight

Chart showing traffic fatalities between 2019 and 2023Traffic deaths are continuing a modest decline, but we have much more work remaining to make our roads safer for people both inside and outside a motor vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced earlier this month that 42,514 people died in crashes in 2023, down 3.6% from the year before. While this progress is certainly encouraging (especially after a surge at the start of the pandemic), 2023 marked the third straight year with more than 40,000 roadway fatalities. That’s completely unacceptable. GHSA remains focused on working with partners – both long-standing and new – to bring the number of roadway crashes, injuries and deaths to zero.
Mirroring the trend with overall traffic fatalities, pedestrian deaths are showing signs of a minor decrease in 2023, according to GHSA’s data analysis. GHSA’s report projects that drivers struck and killed 3,373 people walking in the first half of 2023 – down 4% from the year before but 14% above 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. The report received widespread media coverage, including in NPR, Streetsblog, Ars Technica, Smart Cities Dive and more. Our team is working on a follow-up report that will examine full-year 2023 estimates, analyze historic federal data and share examples of what states are doing to improve safety for people on foot.

Three people standing behind a table in an exhibit hall while smiling

Pedestrian safety was one of the topics the GHSA team discussed at the recent Lifesavers Conference in Denver. CEO Jonathan Adkins spoke at a workshop about GHSA’s data analysis and how the Safe System approach can help. Senior Director of External Engagement Pam Shadel Fischer addressed teen driver safety at a separate workshop, and Programs and Member Services Director Kerry Chausmer was in the Exhibit Hall representing the Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program. It was wonderful to connect with and learn from so many knowledgeable and dedicated traffic safety professionals. Collaboration will be key to building on the recent progress and continuing to reduce traffic crashes, injuries and deaths.

As Distracted Driving Awareness Month draws to a close, GHSA continues to work to change the social norm around this persistent but deadly behavior. In collaboration with General Motors, GHSA has highlighted short videos with a wide range of safety and community leaders sharing why they stay distraction-free on the road. Thanks to everyone who took part in the #NoDistractions campaign! GHSA also released a report with Cambridge Mobile Telematics showing that distracted driving fell in four states after they implemented hands-free laws.

2024 Annual Meeting

The GHSA 2024 Annual Meeting is less than five months away! We have a fresh new website for the Annual Meeting – check it out at to see an agenda, featured sessions, ideas for what to do in Indianapolis, lists of sponsors and exhibitors and much more. Registration is now open – register now to take advantage of the early bird rate.

Image of Laura D. Chace and Erik DietzWe’re excited to share that we’ve already confirmed a number of great speakers! On September 11, we’ll explore the Safe System approach with three experts, including Laura D. Chace, ITS America President and CEO. The following day, a General Session on the future of traffic safety will feature MICHELIN Mobility Intelligence President and COO Erik Dietz and other leaders. We're announcing more speakers each week! Sign up for email updates and follow us on X/Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest.

The Annual Meeting Exhibit Hall is 85% sold out, with only 11 booths still available. Don’t miss your chance – sign up today before all the spots are gone! Thank you to the more than 40 Roadway Safety Champions who are supporting the Annual Meeting through their sponsorship. See a complete list of sponsors and learn how you can join them.

Join GHSA on May 22 at 2 p.m. EST for a pre-conference webinar, sponsored by Honda, to learn what vehicle manufacturers are doing to address mobility and equity in safety for the next generation of road users, and how vehicle manufacturers, State Highway Safety Offices and local partners can work together. Register here.

Safety Roundup

🟠 Driving Skills for Life Turns 21: GHSA and Ford Fund have awarded $100,000 in grants to Washington, D.C. and Montana to advance access to safe mobility for teens in underserved areas, even if a car isn’t part of their journey. The groups are also celebrating the 21st year of the Driving Skills for Life program, which provides free, advanced, hands-on driver education.

🟠 Rise in Fake Plates Spurs Action: The New York Times explores how a rise in expired and counterfeit license plates is leading to increased enforcement and stronger laws. “This is one aspect of a much larger problem,” GHSA CEO Jonathan Adkins told the paper. “We are giving the public too much permission to flout rules.”

🟠 Youth Active Transportation Safety Grants: GHSA and the National Road Safety Foundation have awarded $125,000 to five states to partner with community-based groups to implement safe youth mobility programs focusing on walking, biking and/or riding a scooter. This is the third consecutive year that GHSA and NRSF have provided funding for youth safety initiatives in socioeconomically disadvantaged areas with limited financial resources. Learn more.

🟠 New Top Cop in Minnesota: The new Chief of the Minnesota State Patrol, Col. Christina Bogojevic, has named traffic safety as one of her key priorities. “Sometimes we get too focused on the number and forget that these are family members and loved ones that won’t be coming home,” she said. More via MPR News.

🟠 Addressing Distraction in the District: Using funding from a grant provided by GHSA and General Motors, the District of Columbia Highway Safety Office is deploying new signs to detect distracted driving and alert drivers with a message on an electronic sign. “We are hoping to change behaviors so our roads can be safer for everyone,” said HSO Director Rick Birt. Read more from WUSA 9.

🟠 New Research on High Visibility Enforcement: High visibility traffic enforcement combined with public outreach and education can reduce the dangerous driving behaviors that are all too commonplace on our roads, according to a new study from the Behavioral Traffic Safety Cooperative Research Program. The report also provides four frameworks that agencies can use to evaluate and improve their campaigns. Read the report.

🟠 Booze It & Lose It: The North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program has refreshed and expanded its “Booze It & Lose It” drunk driving prevention campaign. Officials in North Carolina worked with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center and GHSA’s Consulting Services Initiative to successfully pilot the updated program in seven counties before a statewide rollout. Learn more in WCTI.

🟠 Seeking a Green Light for Red Light Cameras: With New York City’s red light camera program set to expire this December after 30 years, the NYC DOT, safety advocates and others are pushing for its renewal and expansion. The current red light camera program applies to 150 (just 1%) of the city’s intersections. Read more in Our Town.

🟠 Slow Your Roll: IIHS notes that depictions of dangerous speeds in auto ads can undermine progress on safety. An IIHS blog post credits partnership programs like Driving Skills for Life (Ford and GHSA) and DriveitHOME (General Motors and the National Safety Council) for encouraging safe driving.

🟠 Senators Express Concerns Over Vehicle Tech: Two U.S. Senators are urging NHTSA to increase scrutiny of autonomous vehicles and advanced driver-assist systems. “We cannot allow partially automated driving systems and ADS to accelerate the road safety crisis,” Sens. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) and Ed Markey (Mass.) wrote to NHTSA. Read more in The Verge.

Member Spotlight

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Directions in Highway Safety is published bimonthly by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

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