I'm on my way to Atlanta this weekend for the annual Governors Highway Safety Association conference.
It's always an honor and an inspiration to be with hundreds of dedicated public servants and others who work in traffic safety for states, the federal government and non-profit groups like my client, The National Road Safety Foundation. They work tirelessly and usually outside the spotlight to make roads, highways and our cars safer, with the goal of getting to a time when there are no traffic deaths.
That's a very tall order, when you consider that we now lose more than 37,000 people every year in traffic crashes.
Even as cars themselves have been getting safer with innovations as simple as seat belts and as complex as new systems that warn of an impending crash and actually stop the car, there are other factors that make driving more risky. Some have been around forever -- alcohol, speeding, drowsiness. And some risks are fairly new --distraction caused by cellphones, texting and the ever-increasing number of screens and other bells and whistles right in front of us on our dashboards.
Laws and enforcement help reduce risks of speeding, DUI and testing while driving. But many still do risky behavior while behind the wheel, and that's where public relations and community engagement come in. A good example is drinking and driving. Through many years of public education through PR, drunk driving has become an extremely negative stigma that most of us want to avoid. We're working to make distracted driving - texting and talking on cellphones - something that's widely accepted as a negative. It's a big challenge, but we keep working at it.