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GHSA Chairman: How GHSA and the states help keep teens safe

National Teen Driver Safety Week is the perfect time to look at the role State Highway Safety Offices (SHSOs) play in keeping teens safe on our nation’s roadways. SHSOs are uniquely positioned to implement safe driving programs at the state and local levels by conducting campaigns that focus on teen drivers and their parents.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is the national organization that represents SHSOs. Since 2012, I have had the pleasure of serving as Chairman of GHSA. One of GHSA’s key roles is to cultivate partnerships with other organizations to advance highway safety.

During this year’s National Teen Driver Safety Week, GHSA is excited to launch a new partnership with the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( to bring its IKnowEverything program to Tennessee and Kentucky. IKnowEverything is an integrated effort that highlights the issues of drunk driving and distracted driving and reiterates to parents that they have the most influence on their teen’s driving behaviors.

My office, the Tennessee Governor’s Highway Safety Office, as well as my counterparts at the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety are working with to conduct IKnowEverything Challenges at Sycamore High School in Pleasant View, Tennessee on Tuesday, October 21 and Jeffersontown High School in Louisville, Kentucky on Wednesday, October 22. The IKnowEverything Challenge is an interactive game show style event in which teens use handheld devices to answer questions about safe driving practices. The responses will help us identify gaps in the teens’ safe driving knowledge so we can take action to address those issues.

GHSA offers many other programs and resources for states on the issue of teen safe driving. Our Ford Driving Skills for Life (Ford DSFL) program was established in 2003 by Ford Motor Company Fund, GHSA and a panel of experts to teach newly licensed teens the necessary skills for safe driving beyond what they learn in standard driver education programs. To date, the program has reached more than 35,000 teens in 42 states and Puerto Rico. In addition to its online resources and hands on driving events, the program also provides annual grants to State Highway Safety Offices to support their teen driver safety efforts.

GHSA has also worked with State Farm® and The Allstate Foundation to produce a number of publications that illustrate promising approaches to teen driver safety. Distracted & Dangerous: Helping States Keep Teens Focused on the Road, published in August in partnership with State Farm®, looks at nearly two dozen state policy, enforcement and education initiatives to help keep teen drivers' focus off their smartphones and on the road. Getting It To Click! Connecting Teens And Seat Belt Use details practices states are using to get teens to buckle up every time they drive or ride in a vehicle.

I’m proud of the work that GHSA has done in promoting safe teen driving behavior and am looking forward to expanding our programs and partnerships in 2015 and beyond. For more information about GHSA, visit


By Kendell Poole


Chairman, GHSA and Director, Tennessee Governor’s Highway Safety Office

Kendell Poole was appointed by Governor Phil Bredesen on January 27, 2006 as Director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office in the State of Tennessee. He is continuing to serve in that capacity under the administration of Governor Bill Haslam. As Director of the Governor’s Highway Safety Office he has received numerous awards for his leadership in achieving unprecedented reductions in fatalities on Tennessee’s roadways. Mr. Poole was a member of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) Executive Board from 2006-2012. He served five years as a regional representative and one year as Chairman of the Association’s Member Services Committee. He also served as the Association’s liaison in implementing a new law enforcement program known as DDACTS. Poole was re-elected Chairman at the Association’s Annual Meeting in September of 2014.

*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( or any member.*

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