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Directions in Highway Safety Cover - Fall 2011 Download Newsletter pdf
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Fall 2011 | Vol. 13 | No. 3

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From Our Perspective: AAA Offers Tools and Resources for State Highway Safety Offices

By: Justin McNaull, Director, State Relations

Federal dollars and programs play an important role in helping drive our nation’s traffic safety agenda. Much has been written about the need for Congress to pass a longterm (and long overdue) transportation authorization. AAA was one of the leading voices for the formation of the interstate system in the 1950s and continues to push for a federal transportation program to keep America safe and mobile.

But lack of movement in Congress doesn’t mean that safety advocates have been standing still. The GHSA Annual Meeting this fall highlighted the key role that states, local governments, companies, safety organizations, and other advocates play in improving safety on our roadways. AAA, too, focuses much of its safety efforts in states and communities where we believe that we can make the biggest difference. This work is focused in three key areas: supporting research-based legislative change, driving community programs that make a difference, and advancing research to help drive the safety agenda.

AAA logoLegislative Action
Traffic laws have long been the domain of the states. Since the 1990s, AAA has actively worked to promote graduated driver licensing, having lobbied across the country to pass improvements in all 50 states. Our campaign for texting bans has been more recent, helping advance these laws with state safety partners across more than two-thirds of states. In drunk driving, we partner in efforts to both improve legislation and to make law enforcement and the judiciary more effective through our site. The march continues to pass booster seat laws in the three states that lack them and improve laws in many others. Add in continued efforts on primary seat belt laws and more, and the state legislative agenda for 2012 remains full, with opportunities to work with state and local partners – regardless of federal incentives or sanctions.

Community Programs
Some of our key safety programs have been active in the states for decades. We founded the AAA school safety patrol program in 1920 and wrote the first driver education text a decade later. These efforts have grown across the decades, with more than 500,000 patrols helping children safely travel to school this year and AAA playing a key role in development of the national driver education standards. Programs evolve as society and technology shift. Our website for parents of teens,, launched last fall and has averaged more than 50,000 visitors per month, providing them with state-specific information and tools tailored to their family’s phase in the learning-to-drive process. Recognizing the growth in our older driver population, AAA has partnered to develop and promote CarFit events, senior safety expos, and an online version of our popular Roadwise Review screening tool.

Driving Research
Research plays a key role in developing and promoting legislation and programs that make a difference. Since its founding in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has promoted research across traffic safety, including some key projects on teen driver safety and distracted driving. The annual Traffic Safety Culture Index has helped track safety advocates’ impact in changing culture on our roadways for the last four years. In the months ahead, look for more AAA Foundation research on cognitive distraction, driver education, and driver licensing policies.

AAA was formed more than 100 years ago by local auto clubs partnering to improve mobility and safety. State and local work is in our DNA; working with partners remains essential to our shared goal of preventing crashes, injuries and deaths.

Contact for more information about working with AAA.