FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 3, 2023
Contact: Adam Snider, 202-580-7930; 202-365-8971 (after hours)
Statement by Jonathan Adkins, Chief Executive Officer, Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Governors Highway Safety Association is pleased to support and celebrate the National Roadway Safety Strategy, an ambitious safety plan released by the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) one year ago that sets a national goal of zero deaths on our nation’s roads. GHSA also thanks U.S. DOT and Secretary Pete Buttigieg for drawing attention to the national traffic safety crisis plaguing our roads and advancing our shared goal of safer streets for everyone using them, including drivers, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and micromobility users.
While the National Roadway Safety Strategy offers a comprehensive roadmap for how we get to zero traffic fatalities, the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirms the United States has a long way to go before we meet that goal. Traffic fatalities soared 6.8% in 2020 even though there were far fewer drivers on the road. Roadway deaths rose a staggering 10.5% in 2021 – the highest annual increase on record. And preliminary data through the first nine months of 2022 shows fatalities decreased a minuscule 0.2%.
Amid this pandemic-fueled surge in roadway deaths, national leadership on traffic safety is essential for addressing unsafe street design, dangerous driving behaviors – like speeding, driving impaired or distracted, and not buckling up – and other risks that needlessly claim lives on our roads every day. GHSA especially appreciates the strategy’s focus on advancing equitable outcomes, an endorsement of the comprehensive Safe System approach, and a call to action for all levels of government to do more to protect people walking, biking and scooting.
GHSA is pleased to be recognized as a First Mover by U.S. DOT for our strong support of the National Roadway Safety Strategy through a variety of actions, which include:
- Forming a new GHSA Equity and Engagement Committee to address key barriers to advancing equity in highway safety programs, promote greater outreach and engagement in underserved communities and guide GHSA efforts to prioritize equity in all the association’s initiatives.
- Providing grants to states to engage with underserved and underrepresented communities. Last year, GHSA partnered with the National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF) to award $75,000 in grants to three states to promote safe youth mobility options like walking, biking or riding a scooter in diverse and low-income communities. This year, GHSA is implementing separate grant programs through NRSF and Ford Motor Company Fund that encourage states to try innovative approaches to reaching more diverse communities.
- Helping states to implement the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by engaging with new and underserved communities to plan highway safety programs.
- Raising public awareness of the pedestrian safety crisis and how to make roads safer for people on foot by publishing a data analysis showing that drivers struck and killed 7,485 people walking in 2021 – the most in a single year in four decades. This report drew significant media coverage and helped publicize steps that can be taken to protect people walking.
- Partnering with Uber on impaired driving prevention efforts in five states with high drunk driving fatality rates, according to NHTSA data: Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri and Texas. This initiative provides free and discounted rides that are a convenient alternative to getting behind the wheel impaired, which puts everyone on the road in danger.
- Highlighting the unique dangers and safety opportunities of rural roads in the report America’s Rural Roads: Beautiful and Deadly. Nearly half of all traffic deaths occur on rural roads even though only 19% of the population lives in these areas.
- Providing states with a public messaging guide on how to communicate with cannabis users about safe driving. The report, Cannabis Consumers and Safe Driving: Responsible Use Messaging, will help states shift from enforcement-heavy messaging to ones that resonate more with cannabis consumers.
- Sharing ways to advance the Safe System approach at a widely attended (in person and online) panel discussion at the 2022 GHSA Annual Meeting in Louisville, Ky., featuring speakers from businesses and organizations playing a key role in implementing the Safe System approach. Planning is underway for the GHSA 2023 Annual Meeting, which will include a focus on the Safe System approach, how to advance equity and reaching new communities.
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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. Visit ghsa.org for more information or find us on Facebook and Twitter.