Last week, the Utah Department of Public Safety and the Utah Department of Transportation hosted over 400 participants at their state’s Zero Fatalities Safety Summit. This year’s summit was particularly noteworthy, as it marked 10 years since Utah initiated their “Zero Fatalities” efforts throughout the state. In his welcoming remarks, Utah DOT Executive Director, Carlos Braceras, highlighted many of the achievements that have been made to move the state toward that goal. However, he also cautioned that although the state has enjoyed nearly a decade of decreases in fatalities, that trend has begun to turn upwards over the past year. To address these challenges, he stressed the importance of all of us looking beyond what we are currently doing, and examine the underlying causes of crashes, including our safety culture.

Joe Toole, Senior Principal with Kittelson and Associates, Inc. (Kittelson), built on Executive Director Braceras’ comments and focused on ways to transform the culture of safety in our communities. In his keynote address, Toole discussed how the shared values, beliefs, attitudes and norms of a community can influence how they ultimately behave behind the wheel. Toole noted, “Although we need to continue those programs which are successfully reducing fatalities and serious injuries, if we truly believe in a vision of zero fatalities, we need to look at the deeper influences that impact safety.”

He also stressed how important it is that everyone plays a role in making that change, in their own families, their organizations, and their communities.

Utah was one of the first states to embrace a focus on “Zero Fatalities.” Since then, over 40 States have become part of the nationwide drive “Towards Zero Deaths” (TZD). TZD is built on a growing recognition that fatal and serious injury crashes are preventable, and not simply a consequence of mobility.

Above, from left: UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras; Joe Toole, Kittelson; Utah Office of Highway Safety Director Kristy Rigby; and Utah Department of Public Safety Commissioner Keith Squires.