FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 18, 2022
Contact: Adrian Nicholas, 202-580-7934; 607-222-9868 (after hours)
State Highway Safety Offices will implement recommended strategies to make distracted driving socially unacceptable
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), in collaboration with General Motors (GM), is providing a total of $210,000 to seven State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) to combat the prevalent and preventable problem of distracted driving. Each state will receive $30,000 to implement recommended actions outlined in a comprehensive report released by GHSA and GM earlier this year.
Distracted driving is rampant on U.S. roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates 3,142 people died in distraction-related crashes in the U.S. in 2020, the most current year for which data are available. Another 400,000 people are injured annually. However, the actual numbers are much higher due to underreporting.
This infusion of funds from GHSA and GM enables SHSOs to test new initiatives and expand successful programs, including working with survivor advocates to put a face on the distracted driving problem, collecting stronger data to advocate for enhanced laws and educating the youngest road users to help make distracted driving culturally unacceptable. These prevention programs will serve as a model for other states and their partners seeking to expand their efforts to help change the cultural norm, so that distracted driving is completely unacceptable.
“This is the perfect time of year to launch these initiatives. The sun sets earlier, so it is imperative that drivers keep their eyes and minds on the road, and their hands on the wheel. Our most vulnerable road users – children trick-or-treating or walking home from after-school activities – are in particular danger due to distracted drivers,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “We’re thrilled to be working with GM to support these critical state programs.”
SHSOs and their partners will use the grant funds in a variety of way:
- The Colorado Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office is partnering with distracted driving crash survivors to launch a video contest among high school students, focusing on the counties in the state where more than half of traffic fatalities involve distracted drivers. Teens will create videos to associate a negative stigma with distracted driving to help spark a change in driver behavior.
- The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety will evaluate its current distracted driving public outreach program by convening a series of focus groups to learn which distracted driving messages resonate the most with various demographic and age groups as well as how and where the messages should be delivered. This will help the state reach the appropriate audience with the most impactful message.
- The Maryland Highway Safety Office is bringing the fast-paced and engaging ThinkFast Interactive (TFI) program to young drivers in nine high schools in communities with the largest distracted driving problem. TFI uses a trivia-based game show format, developed based on active learning theories, to connect young people with relevant distracted driving information. The program has a proven track record of increasing youth awareness about the dangers of driving distracted.
- The Massachusetts Office of Grants and Research, Highway Safety Division will partner with Safe Roads Alliance to make its “Kids Speaking Up for Road Safety” program available to elementary school students throughout the state. The program seeks to create a generation of safer drivers by teaching students at an early age about distracted driving and what they can do about it. By speaking up, children can positively influence their parents’ driving behavior and others with whom they are riding.
- The Missouri Department of Transportation is broadening its “Buckle Up Phone Down” program by working with three distinct groups: elementary school-age children, high school students and employers. Understanding that distracted driving occurs across all ages and is subconsciously modeled for young children, the campaign will reach a broad range of Missourians and encourage changing the culture to one of “phones down while driving” through a non-punitive, social norming approach.
- The Montana Department of Transportation will enhance its partnership with the career and technical student organization Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) by inviting students across the state to develop and launch local distracted driving campaigns in their communities. FCCLA has a strong history of promoting traffic safety messages in rural areas across Montana, which are not immune from the distracted driving problem.
- The Nebraska Department of Transportation is teaming up with a technology company to use digital imaging to collect accurate distracted driving information for a broad sample of Nebraska drivers. The team will analyze this robust data source to determine the most prevalent distracted driving factors and prioritize how to decrease the occurrence of this deadly driving behavior. Results will be shared with state legislators to influence stronger statewide distracted driving policies.
“General Motors is proud to provide funding to support states as they continue to influence driver behaviors for the better and reduce the incidence of distracted driving,” said Terry Rhadigan, vice president of Corporate Giving at GM. “We are confident these innovative projects will help make our roadways safer for everyone.”
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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 follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
General Motors (NYSE:GM) is a global company focused on advancing an all-electric future that is inclusive and accessible to all. At the heart of this strategy is the Ultium battery platform, which will power everything from mass-market to high-performance vehicles. General Motors, its subsidiaries and its joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Baojun and Wuling brands. More information on the company and its subsidiaries, including OnStar, a global leader in vehicle safety and security services, can be found at gm.com.