At the annual Governors Highway Safety Association conference
The annual Governors Highway Safety Association meeting is wrapping up in Nashville. This year, some 700 traffic safety people from the states and the Federal government gathered in Music City to share info and ideas. I've been attending on behalf of client The National Road Safety Foundation.
One thing that comes through clearly at these meetings is that people in traffic safety are passionate about what they do. We hear people say, over and over, they love what they do and they know they are making a difference… saving lives and preventing tragedies and heartbreak. I feel that way too. It’s hard not to.
The Federal and state people in this field are the antithesis of civil servants. They go way above and beyond, no matter their pay grade.
The people here representing non-profits and advocacy groups, like SADD and NOYS (National Organizations for Youth Safety) and RADD (Recording Artists Against Drunk Driving) and many others are equally passionate about their work. There are others who use their own resources and time to travel to schools to speak about safe driving, like Tim Hollister, who lost his 17-year old son Reid in a crash. It’s a good group of people to be a part of.
Things I’m working on now for The National Road Safety Foundation are exciting, and they are helping build awareness among teens of the dangers of bad driving behavior. We’re putting together a program in conjunction with the Los Angeles Auto Show – a contest for teens inviting them to submit their ideas for a public service message on distracted driving. We’re also producing a teen safe driving day at the show, on Nov. 21.
We’re in the second year of a similar project with the Chicago Auto Show, which takes place in February. And we’re creating a teen traffic safety day at the big New York Auto Show next April. And in October we launch the sixth annual Drive2Life PSA Contest, with Scholastic Publications. You can view our winning PSA from last year, done by a 17-year Julia Huuki from Michigan, by clicking here.
The object of all of this – the National Road Safety Foundation projects as well as all the programs and initiatives being done by the hundreds here at the GHSA Conference – is to drive down the number of people killed and injured on our roads and highways. In 2013, the latest year available for statistics, 32,719 people died. This year so far, it’s very troubling that we’re heading toward the first year-to-year increase in many years. Texting and cellphones are a big factor in crashes that are totally preventable. Drinking and driving remains another big factor, and drugs – especially prescription drugs like opioid painkillers – contribute significantly to the toll.
I’m leaving Nashville charged up and anxious to keep helping create positive change to make our roads safer.