FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 19, 2022
CONTACT: Adam Snider (GHSA), 202-580-7930, 202-365-8971 (after hours)
Statement by Barbara Rooney, Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) Chair and Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) unveiled a new national public outreach campaign to address one of the nation’s most pervasive and deadly traffic safety problems – speeding. We were pleased and honored to stand with NHTSA and other safety partners in announcing this important new campaign.
The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has long advocated for a national focus on speeding and was the first traffic safety organization to sound the alarm about a sharp rise in speeding at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. We are thrilled to see NHTSA elevate this critical roadway safety issue and shine a much-needed spotlight on how speeding wrecks lives. Federal leadership complementing state and local efforts is essential for achieving our shared goal of ending the speeding epidemic.
Speeding is one of the leading causes of death on our roadways, killing nearly 12,000 people in 2021. Let that sink in for a second – that’s more than 32 people killed every single day. Even more alarming, speeding – which was already far too commonplace – increased during the pandemic as motorists took advantage of open roads to put the pedal to the metal. There were more speeding-related deaths in 2021 than before the pandemic began. The pandemic has already harmed so many in the U.S. – we can’t afford to let higher speeds and more traffic deaths be another awful byproduct of COVID-19.
Speeding puts everyone on the road at risk, but it’s especially dangerous for pedestrians, bicyclists, wheelchair users and scooter riders. GHSA’s annual pedestrian safety report revealed a troubling trend in recent years: More children are dying because of drivers speeding. The percentage of speeding-related pedestrian deaths of children younger than 15 more than doubled from 5.8% in 2018 to 11.9% in 2020.
Despite the death and destruction that come with speeding, nearly all of us do it. Far too many drivers consider the speed limit a suggestion or, even worse, a minimum. We must change that mindset. Speeding is short-sighted, selfish and dangerous to everyone on the road. It’s time to change the social norm so that speeding is just as unacceptable as driving drunk or not wearing a seat belt.
We know that it will take a comprehensive approach to combat speeding. Recent research confirms that public awareness and equitable enforcement have a positive and measurable impact on roadway safety by reducing speeding and other dangerous driving behaviors. That holistic approach was recently tested on a rural road in Maryland, where a combination of public outreach, enforcement and engineering was successful in slowing down drivers. During this demonstration project, which was supported by GHSA, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Road Safety Foundation, the odds that a vehicle was speeding dropped by more than three-quarters.
GHSA, State Highway Safety Offices and our partners look forward to continuing our work with NHTSA to eliminate the crashes, injuries and deaths caused by speeding. We will work tirelessly to make this happen. We won’t be satisfied until the annual number of traffic deaths caused by speeding and other dangerous behaviors is zero.
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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.