National Road Safety Conference Convenes in Seattle Amid U.S. Traffic Death Crisis

SEATTLE, March 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — As traffic deaths in the United States reach levels not seen in two decades, more than 1,600 national, state, and local traffic safety professionals will gather in Seattle starting this weekend for the annual Lifesavers Conference on Highway Safety Priorities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2021, the most recent year available, which is a 10.5% increase from the 38,824 deaths in 2020. Every indication is that the traffic safety problems that  led to such a high toll have not abated.

The conference will focus on strategies for bringing those staggering numbers down, by sharing best practices and implementing proven programs that address serious and long-standing traffic safety problems such as speeding, impaired driving, seatbelt/restraint use and distraction. Attendees represent a cross section of traffic safety professionals including law enforcement, first responders, public health personnel, survivor advocates, transportation planners and engineers, auto and insurance industry leaders and local, tribal, and federal highway safety officials.


The conference provides a forum for discussing the latest traffic safety research and programs to reduce crashes through education, engineering, equitable enforcement, and emergency response services.

“At the heart of the conference is how we can work together toward what’s called a Safe System approach in our transportation network that integrates all the things we know work to reduce crashes, deaths, and injuries,” said Lifesavers Conference Chair Russ Rader. “Implementing a Safe System means working collaboratively to prioritize the safety of everyone using our roads with the ultimate target of zero deaths.”

The Safe System idea, recently adopted by the U.S. Department of Transportation, is that the entire transportation system should first and foremost be designed for safe travel. At its most basic, it acknowledges that humans make mistakes, and when they do, the results should not be fatal. In this framework, redundancy is the key; if one part of the system fails, others can still prevent crashes or mitigate the consequences. Safe systems keep vehicle speeds in check, create more and safer ways for pedestrians to cross streets, and protect bicyclists by separating them from vehicle traffic.


More than 80 workshops will present information about best practices in a variety of topic areas including child passenger safety, distracted driving, impaired driving, occupant protection, and pedestrian/bicycle safety. At the opening plenary, Roger Millar, Secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation will deliver the keynote address, highlighting leading traffic safety programs in his state that focus on the Safety System approach.


Sunday, April 2, 8:30am-10:15am

  • Governor Jay Inslee (welcome video)
  • Shelly Baldwin, Director of Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) – Welcome
  • Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste – Welcome
  • Washington State Department of Transportation, Secretary Roger Millar (Keynote – Safe System)
  • Mission Moment speaker – David Jones

About the Mission Moment Speaker: David and Martha Jones are the parents of Cooper Jones, a 13-year-old boy who died after being struck by a driver while participating in a Spokane County bicycle road race on June 24, 1997.

David and Martha have been active in creating legislation in Washington State to prevent these tragedies from occurring again. The Jones family worked with the bike racing community to bring state agencies to the table to create the Cooper Jones Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Education Act which was signed into law in 1998. This Act created the Washington State Bicycle Racing Guidelines, which enabled bicycle events to continue and mandated that any driver at fault in a fatal crash must be re-tested by the Department of Licensing to ensure they can drive safely. The Cooper Jones Act also created a state commission, then known as the Cooper Jones Bicyclist Safety Advisory Council, to recommend safety and educational improvements to make the roads safer for people riding bikes.

The Washington State Legislature created the Cooper Jones Active Transportation Safety Council (ATSC) in 2019 by combining the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Council and the Cooper Jones Bicyclist Safety Advisory Council. The council’s purpose is to increase the safety of those who utilize active transportation and decrease death and serious injury among walkers, bicyclists, and users of other non-motorized methods of transportation (rollers). The Council’s name honors Cooper Jones.


  • As the host city, Seattle is playing a key role in implementing proven programs that center on Safety System strategies. This week, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a study showing that crashes on Seattle streets were less likely to cause injuries after the city lowered speed limits in 2016.
  • The latest traffic safety technology, devices, and programs will be on display in the exhibit hall Sunday and Monday.
  • There will be 99 booths of exhibitors demonstrating the latest state of the art traffic safety technologies and best practice programs and services from across the U.S. including federal, state, and local organizations, and advocacy groups.

For more information, please contact Russ Rader, 202.257.3591 or [email protected]

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National Road Safety Conference Convenes in Seattle Amid U.S. Traffic Death Crisis WeeklyReviewer

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