Highlights from GHSA Annual Meeting
Last week, members of our Traffic Safety department traveled to Grand Rapids, Michigan to participate in the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) Annual Meeting. The Annual Meeting is the perfect chance for members of the traffic safety community to come together and discuss current and emerging issues, trends, and solutions to safety issues that states and communities experience.
This year, teen driver safety, drug-impaired driving, and new technology were hot topics at the meeting. Representatives from GHSA partner Ford Driving Schools for Life shared what makes their innovative program so successful for teens and parents, while highway safety expert and www.responsibility.org consultant Pam Fischer challenged meeting attendees to consider the impact additional passengers have on a young driver. There was much discussion in most of the sessions about the impact of marijuana legalization at the state level, and the dangerous perception that it is “safe” to use marijuana and drive, as well as the need for more reporting of crashes involving marijuana. And while everyone knows that technology in the car is a distraction, technological advances might be one of the things that keeps us safe. Crash avoidance technologies get better every day, and more and more cars are equipped with them. Parents can also use technology to keep their teens safe, even when they aren’t in the car.
One of the most engaging speakers during the meeting was New York Times journalist Matt Richtel, author of A Deadly Wandering, which is about the death of two rocket scientists and the man who caused the crash that took their lives. The book is also about the role science plays in our relationship with smartphones. During a general session, he encouraged the audience to look at their digital devices in a new way. “The road forward goes through science,” said Richtel, who won the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on distracted driving. Even hearing the sound of a phone distracts a person from driving, because our brains are wired in such a way that we cannot avoid the reaction we have to the ringing of our phones or the vibration of a text, much like we cannot prevent ourselves from turning around when someone taps us on the shoulder. Before you even look at your phone, your mind is elsewhere and your likelihood of crashing increases.
All of the GHSA meeting speakers and attendees contributed to these important discussions. Responsibility.org would like to thank GHSA for organizing the meeting, and for encouraging ongoing discussions of traffic safety issues that impact us all.