WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kendell Poole, Director of the Tennessee Governor’s Highway Safety Office, was re-elected chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), at the association’s Annual Meeting, held in late August in San Diego. GHSA is the national nonprofit organization that represents the state and territorial state highway safety offices across the country.
Under Poole’s leadership, GHSA will continue to focus on assisting state implementation of highway safety programs authorized under MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century), the federal highway bill which provides needed resources to states to keep America’s roadways safe. In addition, he will continue to provide national leadership on key highway safety issues, including drunk and drugged driving, occupant protection, distracted driving, and speeding.
Prior to his election last year as GHSA Chairman, Poole was a member of the Association’s Executive Board for multiple terms. He was appointed to his position in Tennessee in 2006 by Governor Phil Bredesen and continues to serve in the administration of Governor Bill Haslam.
Joining Poole in leading GHSA through the next year are John Saunders (Vice Chairman), Director of Highway Safety Services for the Virginia Highway Safety Office; Jana Simpler (Secretary), Director of the Delaware Office of Highway Safety; and Bill Bell (Treasurer), Director of the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety.
During the meeting in California, the leadership team noted that although MAP-21 provides many tools for states, they are concerned by the small number of states that qualified for some of the federal incentive grants during the first year (FY 2013) of the current two-year federal transportation funding program. Only two states qualified for the ignition interlock grant, just seven states and Guam qualified for the distracted driving funding, and no states qualified for the teen driving incentive grant.
Chairman Poole noted GHSA remains committed to addressing the “Big 3” highway safety issues: impaired driving, occupant protection and speeding. “States are working diligently to continue the gains in these areas by leveraging proven countermeasures such as the national Click It or Ticket seat belt mobilization and Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over drunk driving crackdowns,” said Poole.
Recognizing the toll drugged driving is taking on the nation’s roadways, states are also taking steps to get these offenders off the road. At the Annual Meeting, the GHSA membership revised the association’s drugged-driving policy, recommending that states consider enacting or expanding existing administrative license revocation (ALR) laws to include drug-impaired drivers who fail or refuse a drug test.
“One in three drivers with known drug test results who were killed in a motor vehicle crash in 2009 tested positive for drugs,” said Poole. “That’s not just illicit substances, but also over-the-counter and prescription medications. While states are educating the public about the dangers of drugged driving and funding stepped-up enforcement, strong policy is essential to send a message that driving under the influence of drugs simply will not be tolerated.”
GHSA also continues to work on the issues of motorcycle safety and teen driving. During the past 18 months, the association has released a series of reports discussing the uptick in fatalities involving these high-risk populations and measures to address them. GHSA supports a comprehensive strategy of laws, training, licensing, and education to address motorcycle safety, and strong graduated driver licensing laws coupled with research-based parent education programs to help teens survive their most dangerous driving years.