Thorough About Thoroughfares

The annual meeting of the Governors Highway Safety Association tackles traffic issues — including safety among diverse communities.

Author: Casey Gale       

Governors Highway Safety Association 2023 Annual Meeting

Date: Aug. 12–16, 2023
Location: New York Marriott Marquis, New York, New York
Attendees: 850
Exhibitors: 57

Only around a decade after an interstate highway system was proposed in 1956, the U.S. government created the National Highway Safety Bureau to address the growing number of deaths on those highways. Each state’s governor appointed a representative to administer the highway safety program, who jointly established what is now known as the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). The nonprofit organization “provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management, and promote best practices,” said Adam Snider, director of communications for GHSA, “so that everyone on the road gets to their destination safely.”

Safety for All

The U.S. highway network totals more than 4 million miles in length, so where does GHSA begin when it comes to tackling highway safety? It starts by engaging participants at its annual meeting from a wide range of fields, including traffic safety, law enforcement, public health, youth engagement, research, technology, and insurance. Some of the association’s primary issues of national concern may seem obvious — alcohol-impaired driving, distracted driving, speed and red-light monitoring, and teen driver safety — but other issues tackled at this year’s event may come as a surprise.

“The general session ‘Creating and Sustaining a Highway Safety Dialogue With Diverse Communities’ was one of the meeting highlights, featuring a panel of experts who discussed the need to involve more representatives of underserved communities in the traffic safety conversation,” Snider told Convene. Diversity and inclusion are core principles for GHSA, he said, because Black, Indigenous, and people of color are disproportionately victims of highway accidents — according to the organization’s most recent research, Native American and Alaskan Native individuals experienced a substantially higher per-capita rate of total traffic fatalities than other groups (145 fatalities per a population of 100,000 between 2015–2019), followed by Black individuals (68 fatalities per a population of 100,000 in the same period).

“GHSA is fully committed,” he said, “to advancing reforms that help achieve racial justice and equity for all road users.”

Green Light

Other sessions at GHSA’s 2023 Annual Meeting included:

    • Slow Down for This Speed Session
    • Mobility, Access, and Safety
    • Staying Safe Outside the Vehicle
    • Innovative Practices in Traffic Enforcement Equity and Engagement

Casey Gale is managing editor at Convene. Illustration by Carmen Segovia

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