FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 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. – GHSA applauds National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy for calling out the woefully inadequate implementation of a comprehensive, Safe System approach to roadway safety – including education and equitable enforcement efforts. Chair Homendy described the national safety landscape in remarks during a Board meeting on November 14 to investigate a multivehicle collision in North Las Vegas, Nev., last year involving speeding and impaired driving that resulted in nine fatalities. The driver who caused the crash was traveling at 103 miles per hour, ran a red light, had multiple drugs in his system and had a long history of speeding, including five violations in the 17 months before the crash.
We will not be able to eliminate crashes, deaths and injuries on our roads without utilizing all the tools at our disposal, including infrastructure, vehicle safety, post-crash care and behavioral interventions like education, enforcement and community programs. All create a multi-layered safety net and address traffic safety challenges in different ways. As Chair Homendy noted, when it comes to making our roads safer, instead of reducing or de-emphasizing countermeasures, we should all be saying, “yes, and…” to anything that we can do that might save a life.
Chair Homendy and the Board are also helping bring attention to dire and persistent threats to road safety. All levels of government need to put more focus on speed management. In the past three years, we have witnessed an increase in excessive speeding that is fueling a pedestrian safety crisis. Speeders are also more likely to take other risks behind the wheel, like driving unbelted, impaired and/or distracted.
Many communities are installing infrastructure changes to slow drivers down, but we also must directly address drivers’ actions. We applaud Chair Homendy for asking how we can better hold dangerous drivers accountable and shift cultural perceptions so that speeding is viewed as a serious wrongdoing.
Finally, the Board has once again investigated a crash that shows the tremendous toll that impaired driving is taking on our communities. A third of all fatal crashes involve a drunk driver and a significant proportion of impaired driving includes a mix of alcohol and other substances. We know many of the steps that need to be taken to better identify repeat offenders and provide communities and criminal justice partners with the tools to identify and stop drug-impaired drivers. With many states decriminalizing a number of drugs, leading to increased access and use, more must be done to keep impaired drivers off the road.
GHSA backs Chair Homendy’s call to action for our nation to fully embrace the Safe System approach. A comprehensive approach to roadway safety is the only way we will get to zero deaths on U.S. roads.
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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 X/Twitter.