Improving Traffic Safety in California

Highlands Consulting has a long history of providing services to California’s transportation departments. Since joining the team I have worked on transportation projects and discovered a new passion for traffic safety. Most recently, we helped the Office of Traffic Safety develop their 2020-2023 Strategic Management Plan. We also facilitated CalSTA’s Zero Traffic Fatalities Task Force, which culminated in a Report of Findings to the Legislature on the State’s current speed-limit-setting process. These efforts showcase the current trends in transportation policy, including a growing emphasis on making roads safer for all road users—including bicyclists and pedestrians—and on reducing traffic fatalities to zero.

Even as the State’s focus shifts to the COVID-19 response, the important work in transportation and traffic safety continues. In fact, the unique conditions created by the shelter-in-place order have had striking and immediate effects on California’s roadways. CHP recently saw speeding citations in excess of 100 mph jump by 87%, which coincided with decreased traffic volumes during COVID-19. And while more people may be speeding on empty roads, UC Davis Road Ecology researchers found that car crashes (including fatalities and injuries) on state highways and rural roads have been reduced by half as a result of the shelter-in-place order.

Such dramatic findings and statistics reflect today’s extreme environment. And while this unique environment allows transportation departments and professionals to study conditions that would not normally occur, their goal of improving safety for all California road users remains unchanged, as does ours.