Association's plate full of real issues; focus is to advance roadway safety
Dear Roads & Bridges Readers,
Dear Roads & Bridges Readers,
My thanks to Roads & Bridges for allowing me this opportunity to share a little bit about the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) with their readers.
When I wrote a similar "ATSSA Roundup" one year ago for this magazine, ATSSA had real momentum as the leading advocate for the roadway safety industry. That momentum continues today. Many changes have taken place over the last couple of years that not only affect our members, but also influence the media, elected officials and most importantly the motoring public.
The ATSSA board of directors has spent some serious time focusing on the strategic direction of the association. Their agendas are now full of real issues to discuss rather than "administrivia."
As part of our focus, the board has identified ATSSA’s core purpose as "To Advance Roadway Safety." Along with our tag line, "Safer Roads Save Lives," the core purpose lets the media, legislators and the general public know that the private business you engage in every day has a public purpose that is important to our society.
One thing the industry can be assured of is a growing presence on Capitol Hill, especially in the face of TEA-21 reauthorization. ATSSA has joined many other associations to support reauthorization through the Transportation Construction Coalition. At the same time, ATSSA has taken the lead in the formation of RISC—the Roadway Infrastructure Safety Coalition—to bring a special focus on the safety aspects of reauthorization. We firmly believe that additional funding should be targeted or reserved for safety enhancements such as more visible signage and roadway markings, modern guardrail and better lighting to make our roadways safer for the motoring public—especially for older drivers.
In order to make federal legislators more aware of infrastructure safety, ATSSA launched the "Roadway Safety Partners" program three years ago. If you ask any legislator on the federal or state level if he or she supports roadway safety, they will all say "yes." If you then ask them what safety means to them, they will most likely say people should wear their seat belts, cars should have air bags and anti-lock brakes or that all states should have .08 alcohol limits. These are good things, but they ignore the fact that bright, visible signage and striping, and lighting in appropriate places can guide the motorist safely and prevent crashes before they occur, or in the instance of guardrail, guide an errant vehicle from a collision with a fixed object.
"Roadway Safety Partners" bring this message to Capitol Hill. This year, Representatives Mark Kennedy (R-Minn.) and Chairman Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.) met and spoke with our members prior to ATSSA members’ scheduled meetings with their legislators. We all learned something, and it was another great opportunity to network with peers and enjoy some time in the nation’s capitol.
Just prior to this Washington visit, ATSSA sponsored a dynamic and fast-paced leadership program to assist members in their roles as volunteers and in their own businesses. The response was overwhelmingly positive and we will repeat the program next year.
Many of the ATSSA members visiting Washington, D.C., in April remained in town for the National Work Zone Awareness Week event held on The Mall near the Washington Monument. ATSSA again played a major role in this event, along with FHWA, the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials and many other interested partners to again bring the issue of work-zone safety to the attention of the motoring public.
Press releases, photos, proclamations and other tools to help you "build" your own work-zone awareness week activities are available now at the ATSSA website. I encourage you to see what our active 19 ATSSA chapters did across the country in April in support of this event. In the Calif.-ATSSA Chapter, for example, orange safety vests were issued to all California legislators and elected officials to serve as a constant reminder of roadway workers on the job. This innovative idea will help remind elected officials of this annual event throughout the year. ATSSA members are active and engaged in chapters. I encourage you to join them.
A recent event that many of our members, and many within the industry, took advantage of was the March 20 Millennium MUTCD videoconference. The FHWA asked ATSSA to manage and produce this event to outline the latest changes contained in the new manual. Downlink sites numbering 124 in 39 states (including Hawaii and Puerto Rico) hosted over 5,500 viewers who watched the 2 1/2-hour program. We received so many calls on the air during the program via 1-800 numbers that we had to answer the questions after the program by posting the Q’s and A’s on our website. You can find the latest information by clicking on "Millennium MUTCD Videoconference Frequently Asked Questions" at www.atssa.com .
Regarding the new MUTCD, one of the videoconference viewers suggested that ATSSA develop an all-new Part 6 workshop. We immediately acted on that suggestion and have developed a new workshop that is under review by FHWA. To schedule this half-day session in your area, call our training department at 877/642-4637. By the way, you also can order your copy of the new MUTCD printed or CD ROM versions, or the special 6 x 9 edition of Parts 1, 5 and 6, at the same number.
The ATSSA Roadway Safety Training Institute also has developed an interactive website for ATSSA instructors to get up-to-date information. For every ATSSA member’s convenience, there are over 1,200 flagger instructors from around the country committed to providing the highest quality training available for roadway workers.
The ATSSA staff also is working closely with DOTs across the country to develop state-specific courses covering a wide variety of topics. New courses are constantly being developed, such as "Traffic Control for Short Duration Activities," "Guardrail Installation" and "Traffic Control Design Specialist." The most competent, experienced instructors available in the industry will present each of these courses in a classroom near you.
ATSSA also conducted three state grassroots legislative training sessions for leaders in the California, Texas and Florida chapters. Nationally recognized grassroots trainer Bob Guyer provided the day-long sessions. As a result, ATSSA members were better prepared to meet with their elected officials.
Media training also is scheduled in many ATSSA chapters over the next 18 months, allowing our members to feel what it’s like to be interviewed by a reporter. Their on-camera performance will immediately be played back and critiqued.
We have decided to make our Midyear Meeting in St. Louis, scheduled for Aug. 22-25, an open house for anyone considering membership. A full agenda of committee meetings and activities are planned, so if you’re in the St. Louis area during our Midyear Meeting I encourage you to sit in on a meeting or two, network with ATSSA members and consider joining our association.
Plans are already under way for the 32nd Annual Convention and Traffic Expo, scheduled for Dallas Feb. 10-12, 2002. This Traffic Expo promises to be the most exciting, cutting-edge event in ATSSA’s 32-year history, featuring specialized educational programming with business and technical solutions you can take back to your office and implement immediately. You’ll also be able to walk a massive exhibit hall with friends to browse more than 500 booths that showcase the latest equipment and technology available from manufacturers around the world. This year there were over 20 new products announced at the convention, and I’m sure there will be more next year.
We also invite every roadway safety professional—whether an ATSSA member or not—to join ATSSA’s Roadway Safety Listserve to exchange technical information with experts across the country. Hundreds of experts are at your fingertips, and it is a free service. Just click on "Roadway Safety Listserve" on the left side of the page at www.atssa.com .
There’s a lot going on within ATSSA and I am excited about the course we’re continuing on. I hope you are, too.
I look forward to another great year of bringing services and assistance to our members, our numerous partners and the entire roadway safety industry. We’re having too much fun to slow down now, and we’re always looking for better ways to serve each of you. Please don’t hesitate to e-mail me at [email protected]  or call me at 540/368-1701 if you have an idea on how we can do new things or do old things better.
Roger A. Wentz
Executive Director, ATSSA