The Governor’s Highway Traffic Safety Administration (GHSA) and General Motors (GM) have joined forces to support State Highway Safety Offices (SHSO) and their partners in their efforts to combat distracted driving with result-oriented strategies. Together, the two organizations have released a new report that outlines 29 recommendations for SHSOs to consider and implement.
The report examines data shortcomings and other obstacles impacting efforts to reduce distracted driving, and reviews SHSO initiatives and the challenges impacting those efforts. The 29 recommendations span a wide range of factors that affect distracted driving, including state laws, data collection, education and public outreach, enforcement, infrastructure, safety funding sources, partnerships, and leadership.
Distracted driving is one of the nation’s most dangerous roadway problems and continues to worsen. Some 3,142 people lost their lives in distraction-related crashes in the U.S. in 2020 alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Another estimated 400,000 people are injured each year in distracted driving crashes.
The goal of the report is to reverse that trend and make distracted driving unacceptable. Some of the key recommendations revolve around communications, advocacy, and a cultural shift regarding the risky driving behavior.
For example, the report suggests investing more heavily in efforts to change the traffic safety culture around distracted driving, including public education, community programs, and youth engagement. It also calls for more leadership at the federal, state, and local levels to prioritize distracted driving as a safety challenge, frame it within the Safe System approach, and provide more resources to combat the problem. And, it suggests SHSOs collaborate to create a new national distracted driving advocacy organization to give voice to survivors and focus anti-distracted driving efforts.
Other key recommendations center on distracted driving legislation and enhanced law enforcement efforts.
For example, the report suggests promoting the improvement of distracted driving laws to send a clear message to drivers that distraction is unlawful and deadly, and to empower police to stop dangerous driving when they see it. It also suggests equitable, high visibility enforcement of state and local distracted driving laws, while also exploring innovative enforcement strategies, such as safety cameras that can detect and cite inattentive drivers.
Finally, there are several recommendations in the report that revolve around partnerships and data collection.
Specifically, the report encourages SHSOs to expand partnerships with insurers, technology companies, safety advocates, employers, state and local infrastructure authorities, and others to expand the breadth of distracted driving programs. As for data, a key recommendation centers on collecting more effective data about distracted driving, including new prevalence data that may be gathered by technology and corporate partners.
Through GM support, this summer GHSA will offer competitive grants to SHSOs to help them implement the recommended actions in the report.