ATSSA’s online Convention & Traffic Expo draws worldwide attendance

People who missed the eight-day event can register to watch recordings of all sessions

ATSSA’s 51st Annual Convention & Traffic Expo just wrapped up eight days filled with industry information and plentiful opportunities to interact with experts and innovators in the roadway safety industry.

The fully online event drew attendance from every state in the U.S. and Washington, D.C., plus an international contingent representing Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Spain and the United Kingdom. In addition, department of transportation (DOT) officials taking part represented 43 states, plus Washington, D.C., Canada and Spain.

ATSSA’s Convention & Traffic Expo started Feb. 8 with a Roadway Worker Protection Summit that reminded everyone of the gravity of their work and the importance of creating a culture of safety. Week 1 continued with committee and council meetings, a Workforce Development Open Forum, networking opportunities for Young Industry Professionals and first-time Convention attendees plus a Political Action Committee reception hosted by the Government Relations Team.

Week 2 included general sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday that included a State of the Industry Panel, Innovation Panel, Government Relations Panel, national awards and a keynote speaker who both inspired and challenged attendees.

Chad Hymas of Utah provided a cautionary lesson as he spoke of becoming paralyzed in a farming accident after repeatedly ignoring a tractor warning light. But he offered inspiration as well, encouraging industry members to move quickly in implementing what they learn and to embrace change as they work to save lives.

This week also included chats on nine topics related to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for streets and highways (MUTCD).

A Government Relations Panel on Wednesday offered an optimistic view of prospects for a new highway bill and the priority of infrastructure as a new Congress and administration get to work.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee EPW Committee, said she and Committee Chair Tom Carper (D-Del.) plan to meet weekly to discuss the direction of their group. She said it’s not yet clear how the Senate’s 50-50 split will play out but she was optimistic the upper house of Congress would pass a new highway bill before the Oct. 1 deadline.

She said the highway bill would be one of the first things addressed by her committee and noted that the last bill passed the committee by a unanimous vote. She said the highway bill offers something for everyone, noting that it generates jobs and the last one included a reference to electric vehicles, which appeals to people focused on the environment.

Capito said the sticking point will be how to pay for it but said safety will be the priority and that ATSSA members should make their voices heard on the issue by reaching out to their legislators.

Education sessions numbering 48 stretched over the Convention’s two weeks and covered the gamut from the impact of connected and automated vehicles (CAVs) on issues such as pavement markings and work zone safety, to the rise of high-speed drivers during the pandemic, to challenges posed by new marijuana laws, and how to effectively reinforce safety measures with employees.

People who registered for the event have until April 9 to watch all of the sessions--general sessions, Summit, Open Forum and education sessions--again or see anything they missed. Anyone who was unable to attend over the past two weeks can register now to see all of the sessions, visit exhibits and earn continuing education credits. Registration fees are $49 for public agency officials, $149 for ATSSA members and $199 for non-members.

Early feedback from attendees was positive.

“All of the topics covered were 100% relevant to my current job as well as to positions I’ve had in the past and future positions I’m striving for in the future,” a first-time attendee said. “Whoever is picking the speakers is doing a fantastic job!!! Please keep it up. ... [ATSSA] is amazing. This is my first conference. ... I’m blown away!!!”

Next year’s Convention is scheduled for Tampa, Fla., Feb. 11-15 and one special group is already invited: Stone Shakers, winners of ATSSA’s Got Talent: Battle of the Bands edition.

“We are tremendously grateful for the active participation and support for this year’s virtual Convention & Traffic Expo,” said ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner. “The quality of education and reviews for the event have been very positive and like everyone, we also cannot wait to get back to meeting in-person. I look forward to seeing you in Tampa next year!”

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