State Farm® has been a long-time GHSA partner, providing grant funding to produce publications and resources for State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) and other highway safety professionals, on topics ranging from micromobility and automated vehicles to drowsy driving and pedestrian and bicyclist safety.
Rural Road Safety
State Farm was founded in 1922 to provide competitively priced auto insurance to farmers. To commemorate this centennial anniversary, they partnered with GHSA to address rural road safety. More than half of all crashes nationally occur on rural roads. State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) face unique but universal challenges on these roads, including fewer resources and countermeasure options, less police and EMS presence, more haphazard crash patterns, fewer transportation options, and unique culture.
GHSA’s report, "America's Rural Roads: Beautiful and Deadly," found that 85,002 people have died in crashes on rural roads between 2016 and 2020, the five most recent years of data. That’s more than the entire population of Scranton, Pa., or the seating capacity of Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers. In 2020, the risk of dying in a crash was 62% higher on a rural road compared to an urban road for the same trip length. While rural road deaths fell for several years before the pandemic, they increased in 2020, mirroring what happened across the country.
Automated Vehicles (AVs)
While advances in vehicle automation hold promise for improving safety, they raise safety concerns for our nation’s first responders.
State Farm® provided funding to GHSA to examine how law enforcement officials, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, crash scene investigators and other first responders can better prepare for today and tomorrow’s AV technology. The resulting report published in 2021, “Law Enforcement, First Responder and Crash Investigation Preparation for Automated Vehicle Technology,” outlines curriculum recommendations to improve training on rapidly changing safety protocols.
The report, which was prepared by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, addresses the current and projected state of automated vehicle technologies. It also incorporates discussions with government administrators, first responders, law enforcement organizations, automakers, crash reconstruction experts, and insurance and safety advocates to identify where training is most needed. Researchers used this information to design a curriculum development strategy for training law enforcement and other first responders and crash investigators tasked with addressing these motor vehicle crashes and incidents.
In 2019, GHSA and State Farm® hosted an expert panel meeting in Washington, D.C., to take a deep dive into traffic safety education and law enforcement amid the advent of automated vehicle technology. GHSA published a white paper summarizing the outcomes of that meeting and provides a number of recommendations for SHSOs and the broader safety community.
In 2018, with funding from State Farm®, GHSA published "Preparing for Automated Vehicles: Traffic Safety Issues for States," which analyzed market trends and found that most autonomous vehicles (AVs) for the foreseeable future will share driving responsibility with humans. It outlines a number of safety issues and discusses how law enforcement and SHSOs should prepare for AVs on the road now and in the future.
Understanding and Tackling Micromobility: Transportation's New Disruptor
Recognizing the inherent safety issues when dockless e-scooters and other personal transportation devices (PTDs) share the road with motor vehicles, State Farm® funded a project for GHSA to research the issue and provide concrete examples of what SHSOs can do, in partnership with others, to ensure PTD riders and all road users safely share the road.
Published in 2020, “Understanding and Tackling Micromobility: Transportation’s New Disruptor” explores six challenges – oversight, funding, data collection, enforcement, infrastructure and education – and the role SHSOs and their partners can play to address them.
Other Publications and Projects
State Farm® has also provided support for GHSA to conduct research and produce publications on bicyclist safety, drowsy driving, teen distracted driving and a host of other critical safety topics.