I was again able to attend the Governor’s Conference on Highway Safety in August, along with leading the MoSAC meeting and Peer Exchange the evening before the conference. It was an informative two days for me.
First off, the peer exchange was good. Some great information was shared between the 15 people or so that were able to attend. We had asked for topics to discuss and we had a variety of different topics to talk about. The focus of this session was on getting riders endorsed. Some different ideas were discussed between ads and posters urging the endorsement. And making getting endorsed easier. The people (riders) attending really liked the idea of 3rd party testing. They believe it would make it easier for people to get tested at an alternative site than going through a rider class or getting scheduled at a DMV testing site. We are doing some digging about to see if that would be possible, at least for a few years, to get more riders licensed.
The other thing discussed was trying to come up with some impaired riding messages that would be impactful in getting the message out. One thought is to partner with the Wisconsin Tavern League or talk to them to see what they find works or at least what doesn’t work.
The downside to the meeting we had way too many topics to discuss. We got started and it seemed people had good ideas and questions on endorsed riders and the issues with impaired riding.
The DOT was impressed what was discussed, and they would like to do more of these meetings around the state getting more input and ideas. As we come up with some sort of schedule or dates I will be sure to pass that along.
I was able to attend the conference for a few hours on Wednesday before having to leave for work issues. The theme of the conference seemed to be changing our culture to a “safe culture”. That is their way of saying we need to embrace a safer way to look at things along with following through. We need to adopt ways things are done, get this, in other countries. Examples were brought up how in Japan when someone is crossing the street how traffic in both directions stops patiently waiting until the person crosses the street and bows to both lanes of traffic. How signs are being designed with a “softer tone” embracing alternative lifestyles. The message being pushed we need to adopt the safe way of doing things like other countries and things will be better. So rather than enforcing the laws we have like staying in our lane, we need to look to another culture and embrace how they look at the law and that will fix all.
Speaking of culture, the breakout session I attended was dealing with the Amish and their use of the roads with buggies. It was very interesting on how the local police in Green County dealt with this group of people and worked out ways of making the roads safer for them without stepping on their beliefs. That buggy and the horses pulling it is their source of transportation along with the muscle in the fields. Often times kids are working these large animals and even with the training, skills and blinders the animals get spooked. They travel with really minimal markings and no lighting and although they travel mostly in daylight hours, I am sure they occasionally get close to the evening hours. We need to be cautious going around them. The other issue if something happens is the lack of ID on the Amish possessions. This makes making notification hard in the event of a problem. The other issue is the unwillingness to go to the hospital or clinic because they feel the crash was God’s will. They accept what happens, not pressing charges and won’t try to have a doctor help. These are all important issues we all face especially as we head to ABATE Acres for events – as there is a large Amish/Mennonite population in that area.. This breakout was very informative and interesting.
If you are ever interested in attending this type of conference let me know. We are always looking for people to join us.