FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 2010
Contact: Jonathan Adkins
(202)789-0942, ext. 13
GHSA Chairman Announces Priorities
Highway Safety Reauthorization, Distracted Driving, Strengthening GHSA Top List
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Vernon F. Betkey, Jr., Director of Maryland’s Highway Safety Office was reelected as Chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) for an unprecedented third term. Betkey becomes the longest serving Chairman in GHSA history. His term expires at next year’s Annual Meeting in Cincinnati, in September.
Today, Chairman Betkey outlined his priorities for GHSA for the upcoming year:
Highway Safety Reauthorization
Current federal highway programs, including highway safety programs administered by GHSA members, expired in September of 2009. Congress has granted short-term extensions to keep the programs running, but a long-term authorization is needed so states can plan effective programs. Betkey says, “Reauthorization is by far my top priority as GHSA Chairman. We need funding assurances and a continued strong federal-state partnership on highway safety.”
Betkey notes that GHSA and six other state associations formed a State Highway Safety Alliance and have issued shared reauthorization principles [772 KB, 2 pgs.], including:
- The establishment of a national performance goal and state targets;
- An increase in highway safety funding;
- Streamlined program administration;
- Strengthened strategic highway safety planning; and
- Enhanced data collection and analysis.
In addition to its state-based partners, Betkey indicates GHSA will work closely with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, MADD and other partners to ensure that Congress fully supports highway safety.
According to Betkey, during the next year, GHSA will focus on some of the emerging issues in highway safety such as distracted driving, pedestrian safety and speeding/aggressive driving. He notes, “While we will not take our eyes off of seat belt use and drunk driving, there are clearly other areas that deserve our attention.”
Regarding driver distraction, Betkey says GHSA will continue to advocate for a comprehensive approach to the problem—education, legislation, enforcement, employer bans, and technological solutions. GHSA will also continue to share best practices and state successes that can be duplicated. On pedestrian safety, with a greater focus on livable and walkable communities, states will need to take action to prevent an increase in pedestrian deaths. As for speeding and aggressive driving, Betkey adds, “Speeding does not get the attention it deserves, but it is a factor in approximately 13,000 deaths each year. To continue our progress in reducing fatalities, speeding can not be ignored.”
Strengthening the Association
According to Betkey, “GHSA as an organization has never been stronger. Interest in and support of the Association are at very high levels. At the same time, with support from the membership, I want to continue to improve the Association, enhance member services, create new partnerships, and encourage every state to be actively involved.” To achieve these goals, the membership of GHSA recently adopted a new strategic plan that will enhance services to state highway safety offices and further build up the organization. Implementation of the strategic plan is currently underway.
In addition to Betkey, GHSA’s membership elected Troy Costales of Oregon as Vice Chairman and John Saunders of Virginia as Secretary. Regional representatives to the Executive Board were also elected. A full listing is posted on GHSA’s website.
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The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA)® is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit www.ghsa.org.