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Directions in Highway Safety, Spring 2007 Cover Page Download Newsletter pdf
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Summer 2007 | Vol. 10 | No. 2

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AAMVA Workshop Builds Bridges in Highway Safety Arena

By: Neil D. Schuster, AAMVA President & CEO

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Long before the inception of SAFETEA-LU, states were actively searching for new ways to protect highway travelers by reducing unnecessary traffic crashes. And while improving the physical condition of our roadways is a paramount factor in highway safety, it is critical that we closely examine the human factors that contribute to crash causation. This includes age, driver distraction, cognitive and physical ability as well as driver behavior.

Since the dawn of driver's licensing, states have determined the minimum age for permitting an individual to operate a motor vehicle, and there has been an ongoing debate about the starting age of young drivers. DMVs across the country spend considerable time and effort ensuring that drivers study the rules of the road, and pass exams before they receive driving privileges. Skills and abilities are re-evaluated intermittingly throughout a driver's life to ensure everyone behind the wheel of a vehicle has earned that privilege. However, in recent years, a new concern has emerged for DMV decision-makers-we "graduate" individuals into driving, but should we also graduate them out of driving? In today's world, individuals can live longer and better lives, and in some cases, individuals may outlive their ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.

When we look at behavioral factors, we see that experience on the road helps a driver develop safer practices, but can also lead to the birth of bad habits. Speeding, disobeying traffic signals, driving under the influence, road rage, not wearing a seatbelt-we can almost always associate these behaviors with highway accidents. And now a new list of bad habits has emerged with new technologies- cell phones, text messaging devices and GPS systems are potential hazardous distractions for people behind the wheel.

The list of problems contributing to highway safety concerns is a long one. To concentrate on solving these problems, law enforcement organizations, insurance companies, driver training schools-everyone connected to highway safety-must collaborate to find new ways to deal with new difficulties. AAMVA's 2007 Fall Workshop, themed "Bridging the Gap to Highway Safety," will allow these agencies to join forces in finding solutions to our most pressing roadway problems. With topics ranging from technology's role in highway safety to safeguarding school buses, this learning opportunity will enable you to brainstorm the best ways to save lives.

Stephen Campbell, executive director, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), who will speak during an interactive session of the workshop, says, "Working with all law enforcement to share new ideas and explore the future of technology development, we will be able to better serve the important goal of reducing crashes and saving lives on our nation's highways and streets."

Participation in the fall workshop will open up many opportunities for you and your organization's safety needs. I believe your involvement in the AAMVA fall workshop will help us all discover the solutions to help remedy our highway safety crisis. To learn more about this event, scheduled for November 5-8 in Glendale, Arizona, visit www.aamva.org.

I hope to see you there and look forward to a productive dialogue.