Highway Memorial

May 2017

Taking realistic steps toward eliminating traffic fatalities

Jean Shiomoto

You may have already read and heard that U.S. highway deaths in 2016 totaled 40,200, up 6 percent from 2015 and the first time the annual fatality total has exceeded 40,000 since 2007. With nine out of 10 fatal crashes being caused by driver action or inaction, the potential to mitigate human error on our roadways means lives saved.

“Saving Lives” is the last line of the AAMVA Vision because one of our key responsibilities is to license drivers and promote traffic safety. Last October, AAMVA became a founding member of the new national coalition Road to Zero, which is spearheaded by the National Safety Council and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Together, they outlined a vision and roadmap to end highway fatalities in the next 30 years. 

In our roles in our respective jurisdictions, we can support and contribute to this vision. As the director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles, I’m on California’s Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) Executive Committee, which is responsible for a statewide safety plan that provides a comprehensive framework for reducing highway fatalities and serious injury on all public roads. It involves the combined efforts of state agencies as well as representatives of local, tribal and federal safety partners.

The SHSP has challenge areas that outline realistic, achievable action steps—with associated measurable outcomes—to move closer to zero deaths attributable to motor vehicle crashes. The comprehensive nature of the plan includes all four Es of safety: engineering, enforcement, education and emergency medical services (EMS). Strategies identified for the four Es of safety are:

  • Engineering: A strategy is to improve the safety of pedestrian crossing by using proven effective countermeasures.
  • Enforcement: A strategy is to enhance the utilization of DUI treatment programs, emerging innovations and system monitoring to reduce DUI offenses among high-risk offenders.
  • Education: A strategy is to develop and disseminate education materials, programs and tools that explain how the aging process may affect safe driving.
  • EMS: A strategy is to increase involvement by EMS leaders in the SHSP.


At the 2017 AAMVA Workshop and Law Institute held in Minneapolis in March, we heard from Col. Matt Langer, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol. He echoed the vision and roadmap set by the Road to Zero initiative to end highway fatalities in the next 30 years. Law enforcement agencies are on the roadways each day and night, and far too often they are the first responders at a crash. I value law enforcement’s commitment to achieve zero traffic deaths. Join me in this commitment to eliminating traffic fatalities. 

Jean Shiomoto

2016–2017 AAMVA Chair of the Board