A movement Toward Zero Deaths
Erica Terrini
/ Categories: Advocacy, ATSSA, Government

A movement Toward Zero Deaths

ATSSA advocates for Highway Safety Improvement Program funds to reduce traffic fatalities

ATSSA strives to keep roadway safety on the minds of stakeholders from legislators on Capitol Hill to officials with Departments of Transportation (DOTs) across the country. Therefore, the Association advocates for funds available through the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), a core federal aid program created to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries on all public roads including non-state-owned roads and roads of tribal or Indian lands.

With a membership comprised of approximately 1,500 companies representing 11,000 professionals in the roadway safety infrastructure industry, the Association brings together road safety experts and public agencies to solve road safety issues. Every day, ATSSA members and member companies across America work toward developing products and finding solutions to reduce fatalities on roadways and move Toward Zero Deaths on our roads.
ATSSA’s Government Relations Department works with policy makers at the federal and state levels to educate them about the importance of roadway safety.

“We work to make sure that HSIP is properly addressed. Our job, day in and day out, is to educate these decision makers on the importance of roadway safety infrastructure and the funding elements that go along with it,” ATSSA Director of Government Relations David Bell said. “We work to continuously maintain funding for the Highway Safety Improvement Program.”

The HSIP provides for more than $2 billion a year for the implementation of roadway safety infrastructure projects, Bell said.

ATSSA’s committees, subcommittees, councils and task forces provide the opportunity for hundreds of the Association’s members to engage stakeholders in the roadway safety infrastructure industry at national and state levels. One that is significant in influencing change is the Safety Highway Strategic Plan (SHSP) Council.

The goal of the SHSP Council is to engage with states and DOTs and encourage the Association’s member companies’ involvement in the development and implementation of the SHSP, the plan that guides the management of roadway safety, according to Jim Thonn, chair of the ATSSA SHSP Council since August 2017. That goal can benefit ATSSA members and member companies, he said.

“The benefit for member firms is twofold. This gives us firsthand information on the challenges of our customers and the needs of our customers in making our roadways safer. As those needs are communicated in the industry, that can potentially prompt new developments in products or services,” Thonn said.

The state’s plan must be updated to obtain HSIP funds, and highway safety improvement projects must meet eligibility requirements to qualify for funding.
Thonn serves as director of the Western Region at Trinity Highway, a global supplier of highway products. He reflected on the importance of being engaged with transportation departments in the development and implementation of the SHSP.

Thonn was the ATSSA Illinois Chapter representative on three subcommittees writing the SHSP for the Illinois DOT several years ago. He saw firsthand how strategies were developed to move Toward Zero Deaths. He takes this experience into account as the SHSP Council drives toward having more ATSSA member firms engaged in the development and implementation of the safety plan.

“It gave me exposure to what our customers, what the DOTs, all have to consider in a program that meets the needs of the motoring public,” Thonn said.

With their focus on the needs of drivers and roadway workers, ATSSA Texas Chapter members proposed including private contractors in the state’s “slow down/move over” law when they hosted their first advocacy day at the Texas State Capitol in Austin in late January. Several weeks later, Texas Rep. Mike Lang (R-Texas) introduced House Bill 1226 to include Texas DOT contractors in the law.

ATSSA Texas Chapter President-elect Shelley Williams, southeast regional sales manager for Pexco, highlighted this success in The Signal, in a March/April article, “Don’t Mess with Texas roads.”

“Being a part of this effort was an excellent experience for me. To be able to see the bill being introduced by Rep. Lang is a great accomplishment for ATSSA’s Texas Chapter and the manufacturers and the contractors who work in Texas work zones. Most importantly, the bill will be one that will help save lives,” Williams stated.

In May, Lang signed the bill into law – just one example highlighting the importance of ATSSA’s advocacy efforts toward a core federal aid program and the state safety plans it supports, according to Bell.

“The SHSP will guide the management of roadway safety and HSIP works to enable systematic solutions to the highway network overall in an effort to fulfill ATSSA’s vision and mission, which is to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on our roadways,” he said.

It’s a movement Toward Zero Deaths.

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