U.S. Conference to Focus on Successful Road Safety Strategies Abroad
PORTLAND, Ore. --- Nationally and internationally known highway safety experts will convene Sept. 23-26 in Portland, Ore., for the Governors Highway Safety Association's (GHSA) annual meeting. This year's meeting, themed "Looking Beyond Our Borders," will focus on other nations' strategies and programs that have reduced traffic crashes and fatalities.
The international focus of the conference is particularly timely since the United States' standing in global road safety has been slipping. While the U.S. has made much progress, overall the news is not good -- the country now ranks 42nd among the 48 countries measured by fatalities per capita according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and the International Transport Forum.
In what is considered by many experts to be a more precise measure, fatalities per distance driven, the U.S. was number one in 1970, with the lowest death rate among industrialized countries. However, the U.S. now ranks 11th.
Monday's keynote address will be delivered by Nicole Nason, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Nason was appointed as the nation's top highway safety official by President Bush in 2006. She has been asked to discuss her thoughts on what the U.S. can both learn and offer to other developed countries. She's also expected to discuss how NHTSA can help facilitate this exchange of information and ideas.
Tuesday's general session features two prominent experts from countries known for their excellence in highway safety. Fred Wegman is the managing director for a key road safety research organization in the Netherlands, and Ian Johnston is a professor at the Monash University Accident Research Center in Australia.
Wegman and Johnston are expected to share what their respective nations have done to establish themselves as global leaders in tackling a variety of highway safety issues. These include speeding, drunk driving, safety belt use as well as engineering solutions that result in safer roadways.
Wednesday's closing luncheon will feature Brian Jonah, director of road safety programs with Transport Canada. He will discuss Canada's successful seat belt and drunk driving programs.
The GHSA meeting will also feature a variety of workshops that focus on current and emerging highway safety issues. Workshop topics include:
-- Teens and Distractions: A Dangerous Combination
-- Emerging Drunk Driving Technologies
-- Buckling Up Tweens and Teens
-- Impaired Motorcycling: The Next Big Issue
-- Changing the Culture of Speed