States Focus on Traffic Safety as Memorial Day Approaches

Resource Type

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2020

CONTACT: Joe Feese, 202-580-7930, joe@ghsa.org

As Traffic Increases, SHSOs and Law Enforcement Announce Holiday Traffic Safety Campaigns

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Traffic has begun building across the U.S. as states reopen for business and recreational activities. As we approach Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start to the summer travel season, the nation’s State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) and law enforcement officials are partnering to make sure that our roads are as safe as possible.

GHSA members report that warmer weather and cabin fever brought on by extended stay-at-home orders are contributing to an upswing in drivers, bicyclists and motorcyclists taking to the roadways, some of whom may be out of practice or distracted by current events.

“Safe driving takes practice. Many of us may be a little rusty behind the wheel, so it’s critical that drivers give the road and everyone on it their complete attention,” said GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins. “Safety doesn’t take a holiday. Remember to buckle up, drive sober, stow your cellphone and watch your speed. We have lost too many of our friends and neighbors, and we do not want to lose any more to traffic crashes.”

Of particular concern to GHSA members is a potential increase in impaired driving, as restaurants and bars reopen and the public shies away from public transportation and ride-sharing due to health concerns. A recent survey conducted by IBM’s Institute of Business Value found that nearly one-quarter of respondents would rely exclusively on their personal vehicle for transportation as a result of COVID-19.

SHSOs are undertaking a variety of efforts to make the roads safer in the coming weeks. Several states plan to continue or increase impaired driving public outreach and enforcement efforts in conjunction with Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer and the beginning of what is historically known as the “100 Deadliest Days” on the nation’s roadways:

  • The 13 statewide DUI task forces in Arizona will conduct high-visibility saturation patrols.
  • Seventy-four law enforcement agencies in Colorado and 24 in Utah will increase DUI enforcement that’s supported by public outreach and education.
  • Delaware will conduct a Memorial Day weekend social media campaign involving impairment awareness as it relates to COVID-19.
  • In New York, the state police will conduct extra patrols, sobriety checkpoints and underage drinking enforcement.

Speeding continues to be a problem across the nation, prompting many states to conduct messaging and enforcement campaigns:

  • During the holiday weekend, law enforcement agencies in Maryland will use High Visibility Enforcement to address speeding and impaired driving, supported by social media.
  • Connecticut is conducting advertising and social media campaigns to remind the public about the dangers of speeding and is partnering with the state police to launch a speeding and aggressive driving enforcement campaign.
  • North Dakota is promoting the state’s “Obey the Sign or Pay the Fine” campaign, reminding drivers to follow posted speed limits starting Memorial Day weekend.
  • Virginia will conduct selective enforcement activities across the state focused on speeding, impaired driving and seat belt use.

Several states are conducting activities to ensure that drivers and passengers are buckled up:

  • In Iowa, many law enforcement agencies are planning seat belt enforcement activities, which will be complemented by advertising and social media campaigns promoting safe travel during this typically high-crash period.
  • Kansas has launched a media and enforcement campaign focused on seat belt use that will run through Memorial Day weekend, and law enforcement across the state will be targeting unbelted drivers and passengers.
  • From May 18-31, Missouri will conduct a statewide awareness and enforcement campaign to promote increased seat belt use by all vehicle occupants, including those in the back seat.
  • Tennessee will use social media to disseminate seat belt messages as Memorial Day weekend approaches.
  • Twelve law enforcement agencies across Wyoming will participate in a Memorial Day weekend seat belt enforcement operation.

Other state safety efforts include the following:

  • Continued enforcement in California and Pennsylvania is planned for the lead-up to Memorial Day weekend.
  • As people flock to outdoor attractions across Georgia, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety is producing a series of 30-second social media videos featuring law enforcement partners at popular destinations in the state reminding everyone to slow down, buckle up, put down the phone and always drive sober.
  • Kentucky is using public outreach, social media posts and dynamic message signs to encourage drivers to commit to safe driving behaviors such as obeying the speed limit, paying attention, driving sober and wearing a seat belt.
  • Minnesota will embark on a statewide distracted driving education and enforcement initiative that will run from June 1-14. The SHSO will use this opportunity to launch its newly developed “Drive Smart” messaging with advertising and social media campaigns.
  • Montana law enforcement and traffic safety partners statewide are conducting patrols to deter speeding and impaired driving as well as traffic safety education efforts to encourage seat belt use and promote child passenger safety.
  • Social media messaging in New Jersey will provide “news you can use” related to warm weather travel, such as safety tips for motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as reminders to citizens that officers are enforcing traffic laws during the pandemic.
  • Utah has developed a bike helmet campaign and videos to educate the public on the state’s motorcycle lane-filtering law, and the campaign has been shared on several social media platforms and websites.
  • West Virginia will continue to push out safety messages focused on speeding, impaired driving and seat belt use.

# # #

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 www.ghsa.org. Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GHSAhq or follow us on Twitter @GHSAHQ.