Good morning! Thank you, Brian [Jonah], for that very kind introduction, and thank you to everyone at CARSP (Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals) for the opportunity to speak at your 2018 conference here, in beautiful Victoria. I have had the pleasure of attending a few previous conferences and they were always highly useful and interesting meetings. I also have been impressed by the key role of young professionals at CARSP – it gives me hope for the future of road safety and our future in general. I also appreciate your warm welcome to Canada. Canadians are unfailingly polite, but you also are persistent and you are never pushovers, whether it is about road safety issues or other subjects. I always appreciate the opportunity to interact with you.
I know some of you from my previous non-government position working on the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety in other countries and I see many of you wearing the yellow Decade tag, which is appropriate since, after all, CARSP was one of the very first organizations in the world to support the Decade of Action.
Today, I come to you as a Board Member of the U.S.’s National Transportation Safety Board or NTSB. At the NTSB, we are fortunate because over 50 years ago, the US Congress mandated our mission to be a noble one, to be an independent agency dedicated to investigating and studying transportation disasters in order to make recommendations to prevent accidents, deaths, and injuries.
The public primarily knows of our work from the news media and we are on call 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. We are at the scene of every civil aviation accident and significant accidents in other modes, usually in our dark blue jackets with NTSB emblazoned on the back. Each Board Member, no matter what our background, covers all types of transportation – for example, I covered the train derailment in Washington State in December and the helicopter crash into the East River in March. And we do cover disasters in all modes of transportation – aviation, marine, rail, pipeline, and traffic crashes. But of course, we know that the greatest loss of life, year in and year out, is on our roads.
We are an independent agency headed by 5 independent commissioners, called Board Members, who are appointed by a President and confirmed by the Senate. We serve for a fixed term regardless of elections. Our agency is unique because we are one of the few truly independent federal agencies – we are not part of political administrations and we do not report to anyone, so we can make recommendations to anyone, such as federal government agencies, state agencies, companies, and associations. As a result, we fiercely protect our scientific and investigative rigor. Everything we do is also transparent because our deliberations and votes are done in the public eye under what is known as the Government in the Sunshine Act.
We investigate transportation accidents immediately after they occur – in all modes, land, air, sea – and we determine the probable cause of accidents. We use the results of those investigations to make safety recommendations with criteria for completion. These recommendations have helped States & Territories in the United States make progress in areas such as airbags, impaired driving laws, seat belt laws, school bus design, motorcycle safety, safety barriers in road design, and standards for signage, to name a few.
In order to have the information we need to make safety recommendations from a single investigation, our investigations are extremely thorough. For major highway crashes, we have experts who investigate many areas:
weather and fire
Although we differ from the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada because we have no regulatory authority, our good reputation has enabled us to successfully make recommendations for the benefit of safety. We have issued over 14,000 safety recommendations and approximately 80% have been adopted successfully.
So why is this presentation entitled “what’s old is new again”? It is because there are long-standing issues we all know that keep emerging and yet we also have to face issues that are new such as automation and new incarnations of drugs, or perhaps just new to the United States such as an increase in bicycle travel. In addition, that brings me to the second half of the title, science and story. “Science and Story” is a tool, although we may not call it that specifically, that we use to advance road safety at the NTSB. Since we often study a single representative case, we have to be agile and do in-depth investigations, but it also means that we can tell a specific story to represent the hundreds or thousands of similar deaths and injuries. Sometimes that is more effective. Science and story is a balance. Sometimes we can use more science and other times more story, depending on the audience and the environment. Science and story also can be mutual amplifiers. But at the base of it, there should always be the data. Science and story should always be built on a foundation of good data.
I enjoyed attending some of the breakouts and, as Dr. Persaud said so well during the Vision Zero session, “Assessing the credibility of evidence is not trivial”. It is NOT easy. That is why it is our obligation as road safety professionals to evaluate the science accurately. We are the protectors of good data and good science. But science alone is not enough. Does that mean we should cast it aside? Of course not! Even though decision makers and the public may be swayed by one story, and often are, it is up to us to ensure that the story is based on a foundation of evidence and data. As members of CARSP, you have a reputation for rigorous science, but that also means you have a responsibility.
We have a limited time together today, and I have a lot of slides, but I am ambitious in what I want to cover because I know the NTSB can learn from you and I hope we can offer some insights that can assist you in your important work as well. Today, I want to provide you three examples as a glimpse into our work. First, I will talk about our speeding study, second, our advocacy efforts related to .05 BAC (blood alcohol concentration) which illustrates how the tool of science and story can be effective, and third, our investigation into a Tesla automated vehicle crash.
In addition to investigating individual accidents, the NTSB also conducts transportation safety studies, typically approaching an issue from a broader, national perspective. Our most recent safety study – about speeding – was adopted in July 2017 and we issued 19 safety recommendations to federal government agencies, several road safety and law enforcement associations, and all 50 US states. The NTSB undertook this study because speeding is a common crash factor; the percentage of US road fatalities involving speeding has remained fairly consistent for many years, at about 30%. The absolute number of US road fatalities involving speeding has increased in the past few years, and is about the same as fatalities involving alcohol.
In the study, the NTSB identified five safety issues:
Speed limits, including how they are determined
Data-driven enforcement – in particular the quality of speeding-related crash data
Automated speed enforcement, sometimes referred to as photo radar or speed cameras
Intelligent speed adaptation, which is a vehicle technology
and the overarching issue of National Leadership on this topic.
I know speeding is a key topic at this year’s conference, as it should be. As I understand it, in Canada, maximum provincial speed limits range from 90 Km/h (56 mph) in Nunavut and Prince Edward Island, to 120 Km/h (75 mph) in British Columbia, with most provinces having maximum speed limits of 100 Km/h (62 mph) or 110 Km/h (68 mph).
In the US, many speed limits are initially set by statute, but when changing speed limits, the predominant factor used is the 85th percentile speed of free-flowing traffic. This method has been around for many decades, under the assumption that most drivers will choose a prudent, reasonable speed. However, there is not strong evidence that – within a given traffic flow – the 85th percentile speed is the safest. Also, the research most often cited as the basis for using the 85th percentile is dated and limited in scope, having been conducted on rural roads in the 1960s (or even earlier). Using the 85th percentile can have unintended consequences. If a speed limit is raised, a, new, higher 85th percentile speed will often result. Also, speed limit increases have been shown to have spillover effects, in which operating speeds increase outside the specific road segments where speed limits have been increased.
This is especially problematic considering the number of US states that have increased their maximum speed limits in recent years. As you can see on the next three slides, several states have increased speed limits on segments of rural interstate highways to 80 or 85 miles per hour (about 129 to 137 km/hr).
I believe guidance for setting Canadian speed limits is provided in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Canada (MUTCDC); which is nearly identical to the US MUTCD, emphasizing use of the 85th percentile. There are alternatives to relying primarily on 85th percentile operating speeds to determine speed limits. The US Federal Highway Administration makes available an expert system called USLIMITS2, which can more objectively take factors other than operating speed into account. The Safe System approach to setting speed limits – in which speed limits are driven by desired safety outcomes rather than operating speeds – can explicitly account for vulnerable road users and may be especially well-suited for urban areas.
The second safety issue concerned the increasing use of data-driven speed enforcement, and how the quality of that data impacts the effectiveness of these programs. To illustrate crash data inconsistencies among states, consider this example:
When talking about speeding-related crashes, two types of speeding are typically mentioned: “exceeding the speed limit,” and “driving too fast for conditions.” (There is a third category, “racing,” but this makes up a very small portion of crashes.) This is how speeding shows up in the literature, how it is coded in the national crash databases maintained by NHTSA, and what is recommended in the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) Guideline, a voluntary crash data standards document published by the Federal Highway Administration.
At the national level, these two types of speeding (shown in red and dark orange) appear with similar frequency in fatal crashes. However, not all US states follow the MMUCC. As a result, in some states (shown in orange and red) nearly all of the speeding-related crashes are coded as “exceeding speed limit” whereas in other states (shown in white and yellow) nearly all speeding-related crashes are coded as “too fast for conditions” or just generic “speeding.” These inconsistencies make it difficult to appropriately target countermeasures to the type of speeding occurring.
Speaking of effective countermeasures, Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) is a highly effective, if controversial, countermeasure. Many research studies and several systematic reviews have found that ASE not only reduces speeding, but significantly reduces crashes, injuries, and fatalities. In the US, NHTSA gives ASE their highest effectiveness rating. In the US, the first ASE programs started in the 1980s. There was a lot of growth in the early 2000s, but that growth has stagnated in the past five years or so, and ASE is currently only used in 15 states and DC.
ASE is not widespread in Canada, but it currently is used in several Canadian provinces, including some school zones and roads in Saskatchewan, and the cities of Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta. Most of these systems appear to operate under the District of Columbia and Maryland models, in which the speeding violation is issued to the vehicle owner, not the driver (an approach that has been shown to be effective). In May 2017, Ontario passed legislation to use ASE in school zones; Ontario previously used ASE for a short time around 1994 but stopped after the election of a new provincial premier in 1995.
I believe ASE was previously used in British Columbia from 1995 to 2001; according to news articles, the program ended because it was unpopular with drivers. Safety wise, it was effective, with a 17% reduction in daytime traffic fatalities and a 25% reduction in daytime speeding-related collisions provincewide. We included this result in the speeding report; the B.C. study was part of a broader NHTSA review of 13 ASE studies in various countries. It seems Canadian ASE programs have been subject to some of the same complaints as US systems, namely that they are more about raising revenue than increasing safety.
In speaking with stakeholders, including state and local transportation departments, the NTSB found that one of the obstacles to greater use of ASE was a lack of enabling legislation at the state level. Even in states where ASE is not specifically prohibited, communities are not willing to start ASE programs without enabling legislation in place. One way to improve public acceptance of ASE is for communities to adhere to best practices, but US federal guidelines for ASE are outdated and not well known. Almost two-thirds of ASE program administrators were unaware of the ASE guidelines.
We also looked at point-to-point enforcement, which is also called average speed enforcement or section control. Point-to-point speed enforcement is not currently used in Canada, but there was a news article earlier this year suggesting that mayors in two BC communities are advocating for its use.
This type of automated speed enforcement is based on a vehicle’s average speed between two points, rather than an instantaneous speed. It has not been used in the United States, but it has been shown to be effective in other countries, and it has some advantages over single-point ASE systems – drivers are encouraged to drive the speed limit over longer distances, and it addresses the problem of local drivers learning the locations of fixed speed cameras.
In the US, there are concerns that point to point enforcement as well as traditional photo enforcement violates both individual privacy interests as well as the “confrontation clause” of different states’ constitutions. That is why some US states do not even allow photo enforcement unless an officer is present.
The NTSB also considered vehicle technologies to reduce speeding. One such technology is Intelligent Speed Adaptation, or ISA, which determines the current speed limit for that stretch of road and then limits a vehicle to the current speed limit, so rather than having a fixed speed limit for the vehicle, it can change as speed limits change. Very few ISA systems are available in the United States – it is more commonly found in the European market. Our staff spoke to auto manufacturers and they indicated that this was because ISA is included in EuroNCAP (The European New Car Assessment Programme). It is not part of the US NCAP safety ratings.
Lastly, the NTSB considered the overarching issue of national leadership. Many of the stakeholders we interviewed mentioned that, unlike alcohol impairment, there is no stigma associated with speeding, and drivers seem to underappreciate its risks. Although some advocacy groups – such as the various Vision Zero and Towards Zero Deaths organizations – recognize the importance of addressing speeding, US federal transportation departments could do more. For example, NHTSA coordinates a national enforcement mobilization focused on seat belts called Click It Or Ticket, but there is no national focus on speeding.
Of course, Canada’s Road Safety Strategy 2025 lists “speed and aggressive drivers” as one of nine key factors contributing to road collisions, a topic I am sure you will discuss in the next panel.
As a result of the study, the NTSB issued 19 safety recommendations in 5 areas. To quickly summarize: For speed limits, the NTSB recommended that factors other than the 85th percentile be required when adjusting speed limits, that an expert system be used to validate speed limits, and that the safe system approach be used for urban roads. For data-driven enforcement, the NTSB recommended that best practices be identified for evaluating and communicating the effectiveness of high-visibility speed enforcement programs, and that the consistency of crash reporting be improved. For intelligent speed adaptation, the NTSB recommended that manufacturers be encouraged to equip vehicles with ISA by including it in the New Car Assessment Program. For automated speed enforcement, the NTSB recommended that state laws be changed to allow greater use of ASE, that guidance materials for ASE be updated and promoted, and that point-to-point enforcement be evaluated and included in the ASE guidelines. Finally, for national leadership, the NTSB recommended that a program to increase public awareness of speeding, including an annual enforcement mobilization, be carried out, that state and local speed management activities be incentivized, and that the actions in the Department of Transportation’s Speed Management Program Plan be completed.
We have categorized initial responses to our recommendations as “open and acceptable”; but there have been some challenges. Only 7 states have responded to the automated enforcement recommendations (Arizona, Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming). Of these, only Kentucky has committed to doing anything really concrete – a study including recommendations for an ASE pilot program in school zones and work zones. We also were disappointed by NHTSA’s responses to some of our recommendations. It looks like we are picking on NHTSA here, but that is partly because NHTSA received more recommendations than other agencies. Also, NHTSA is limited by a prohibition from Congress on states using federal-aid funds for ASE programs. More information is available on the NTSB website and the two lead authors are Nathan Doble and Ivan Cheung, whom you are welcome to contact directly.
.05 BAC Limits
At the NTSB, here at CARSP, and likely at other organizations you are a part of, we often talk about data, science, and evidence. But we do not often talk about stories. We do not talk about the importance of stories to helping people understand and support science. Although at the NTSB we study single representative cases very closely, my own training was about data; data for about hundreds and thousands of cases. In the 1990’s, I was immersed in the world of systematic reviews, first at the Cochrane Collaboration in the United Kingdom, and then at the CDC with The U.S. Guide to Community Preventive Services. The Cochrane Collaboration was named after Archie Cochrane, a physician specializing in OB-GYN [Obstetrics and Gynecology] in the UK. As many of you know, a systematic review is a form of research that includes an extremely comprehensive search of the literature and uses specified criteria to choose and analyze published and unpublished studies, comprising many cases, to answer a clearly formulated question. A meta-analysis can be part of a systematic review. While systematic reviews are commonly known now as a gold standard, they were fairly unknown outside the world of medicine, or even much outside the UK, in the 1990’s when I published one of the first systematic reviews on an injury topic in the United States focusing on injuries related to alcohol.
I love data, so as a young researcher, I loved the idea that systematic reviews would find THE ANSWER, quantitatively and without biases. I could not quite understand why people did not find the results of a systematic review and meta-analysis as fascinating as I did. It was only once I was at the NTSB, where I saw the immediate and terrible aftermath of transportation disasters, and I also saw how the story of one disaster could have an immense impact on policy, that I have become convinced of the absolute necessity of telling the story that supports the data, in order to save lives and prevent injuries. Thus, that is what happened when Utah considered a measure to reduce alcohol-impaired driving last year.
We have discussed cannabis quite a bit in this conference and it is certainly a very important emerging issue. In fact, the NTSB has investigated crashes where different impairing substances have been involved, including cannabis, synthetic cannabinoids, opioids, and prescription medications. And while both in the US and Canada, alcohol-impaired crashes may not get as much attention, we should remember that although alcohol-impaired deaths have declined in some cases, “only” 27-28% of total road deaths still equates to thousands of people. In the US, it is more than 10,000 people. In recognition of this, the NTSB has made many different recommendations related to alcohol-impaired driving. We have recommended reducing the illegal per se BAC limit for all drivers; conducting high-visibility enforcement of impaired driving laws; ignition interlocks for all offenders; passive alcohol-sensing technology for enforcement; the use of in-vehicle devices; and DUI courts and other programs to reduce recidivism.
We made all of these recommendations as part of our Reaching Zero study, but we always get the most criticism for our recommendation for states to reduce their illegal per se to .05 BAC or lower. This is despite the fact that nearly 100 countries around the world have such a law and multiple studies demonstrate that the number of impaired driving crashes would decrease. I always try to be optimistic, but even I was surprised last year when, against high odds and during a short legislative session of 45 days, the State of Utah passed the first .05 BAC law in the United States.
How did it happen? In part, because people in Utah requested safety information and the NTSB was able to provide it. When Utah legislators reached out to me early on, we provided unbiased information and I testified twice in their state legislature. We told them that a .05 BAC law is a broad deterrent that decreases the number of impaired drivers on the road at all BAC levels – high and low. We showed them studies demonstrating that even at a .05 BAC, people have problems with coordination, vision, and steering.
When critics called me a prohibitionist, we told them that a .05 BAC law was not about drinking at all – it simply helps people to separate their drinking from their driving. We said people should “Choose One: Drink or Drive”! We told them they could help save 1,790 lives in the US every year. But there are always opponents of safety. Opponents of the .05 law used scare tactics and spread misinformation through expensive full-page ads in many newspapers. These ads contradict information from NTSB, NHTSA, the CDC, and many other sources. Yet these ads told a story, a false story, but a story nonetheless. Opponents tried to mislead Utah residents with a story about innocent people getting put in jail after having one drink with dinner. I have to admit, they were provocative, highlighting older lawmakers and questioning their ability to drive or had catchy slogans like “Arrive on vacation, leave on probation.”
We provided stacks and stacks of information, to legislators and the governor of Utah. I thought surely the statistic of saving 1,790 lives a year would be all that was needed. But no, in the end, although our statistics helped, it was the power of the story that prevailed. My first op ed was full of numbers, but my second op ed was different, it described my brother, a doctor, who often visited Utah with his family to snowboard. I wrote that by passing a .05 BAC law, Utah would be taking the first step to saving 1,790 lives nationwide, and I thanked them for protecting their families - and mine. I cannot tell you how many comments I received about “the story about my brother”! Even more importantly, supporters of .05 BAC then showed up at hearings to tell their story, often citing NTSB information.
The NTSB provided solid, accurate, independent safety information for people to make informed decisions – and to help them tell their story. These stories can help people understand that information, remember it, and sometimes even help advance safety.
Now, let’s talk about Automated Vehicles. In May 2016, a 2015 Tesla Model S, an all-electric passenger vehicle equipped with certain automated vehicle control features, struck the right side of a left-turning 53-foot semitrailer, in combination with a Freightliner truck-tractor.
The collision occurred on a US Highway west of Williston, FL. The Tesla was traveling eastbound in the right lane and struck the combination vehicle as it was making a left turn from westbound US-27A across the two eastbound travel lanes onto a local road. The Tesla passed beneath the semitrailer, which sheared off the roof, and continued eastward where it departed the right side of the road. The Tesla continued through a drainage culvert and overrode two wire fences. It struck a utility pole, rotated counterclockwise, and came to rest in the front yard of a private residence.
The Tesla struck the right side of the semitrailer near its midpoint. While there was some structural damage, the semitrailer was functional. In addition to the Tesla’s roof being sheared off, when it struck the utility pole, it was damaged at the left front corner and the front airbags were deployed. The safety issues we found were:
Operational design domains for vehicle automation
Monitoring of driver engagement
Event data recorders for automated vehicles
Safety Metrics and exposure data for automated vehicles
Vehicle-to-vehicle communication requirements
Autopilot consists of (1) traffic-aware cruise control or TACC, Autosteer, and Auto Lane Change. TACC is an adaptive cruise control system that provides automatic longitudinal control. The systems have limitations. They have reduced operational capacity on roads with abrupt geometry and during inclement weather. There also are restrictions that limit the functionality of the systems.
Tesla’s automation system, as well as other automation systems, have operational design domain; that is, conditions in which that system is designed to operate but it was not based on the type of roadway. Tesla provided user-based constraints to restrict the use of Autopilot to roadways for which it was designed. Drivers are informed of these constraints through the vehicle manual. The implementation of these constraints relies on drivers’ awareness of them and their adherence to them. For example, the vehicle manual states that “Autosteer is intended for use only on highways and limited-access roads”. It further warns drivers not to use Autosteer in areas where bicyclists or pedestrians may be present.
Multiple similar warnings appear in the manual.
Level 2 automated systems like this Tesla have more operational design limitations; that is, they have reduced capability compared to Levels 3 and higher. Yet, there are no requirements or guidelines that limit the use of Level 2 automated systems to roadways for which they are designed. An automated system that does not automatically restrict its operation to conditions for which it was designed allows a driver an opportunity to inappropriately use the system, which in this case, ended tragically.
This crash occurred on US-27A, which although having a central median divider, is not a limited access roadway. The Tesla driver was able to engage Autopilot and cruise at 74 mph. The system would have allowed the driver to cruise up to 90 mph on this road. Prior to turning on US-27A, the Tesla driver was traveling on State Road 24; a 2-lane roadway which does not have limited access or a central median divider. The Tesla driver was able to engage Autopilot on this road, although his maximum cruising speed was limited to 5 mph over the speed limit.
The Tesla’s Autopilot did not respond to the turning truck. The system did not detect the hazard, nor was it intended to, and as such, TACC did not reduce speed, and FCW (forward collision warning) and AEB (auto emergency braking) systems did not activate. So, Autopilot functioned as designed; but the system was operating outside the domain afforded by its limited capabilities.
As an integral component of a Level 2 automated system responsible for monitoring driving environment, a continually engaged driver is critical for safe operation. During Autopilot operation, Tesla monitors driver engagement through changes in steering wheel torque. When the system does not detect driver-applied steering wheel torque for a prolonged period, it provides a series of warnings to the driver.
The initial visual alert is displayed for 15 seconds. If the system still does not detect driver-applied steering wheel torque, it presents an auditory warning, followed by another, 10 seconds later. Finally, the system provides a final auditory warning and initiates a slowdown if the driver still does not handle the steering wheel.
The Tesla’s crash trip lasted 41 minutes. The driver had Autopilot engaged for 37 minutes of that time. The time that the system detected the driver’s hand on the steering wheel is represented by the green dashed vertical lines. Out of 37 minutes during which Autopilot was engaged, the system detected driver-applied steering wheel torque on 7 separate occasions for a total of 25 seconds.
The Tesla driver’s pattern of use of Autopilot, including lack of steering wheel interaction, and complete lack of response prior to the crash, indicates over-reliance on the automation. Data stored on the vehicle is periodically uplinked to Tesla servers via WiFi, or using the vehicle’s inherent cell data capabilities. Any data recorded after the most recent up-link event will be resident only on the vehicle. The conversion of this data to information usable by safety investigators – such as speed, steering angle, lead vehicle distance – must be obtained via a query of the data resident on Tesla servers using proprietary manufacturer software (so the manufacturer must cooperate). The right hand image shows the Gateway Electronic Control Unit (ECU) recovered from the Tesla Model S in this crash. Although the unit was damaged, the SD card was functional and the data recorded on it was recovered.
Here is a summary: The Tesla involved in this crash was a Level 2 automated vehicle. Although the system did not detect the turning truck, Autopilot functioned within its limited capabilities; however, the system operated and was allowed to be operated outside the domain for which it was designed.
The Tesla driver’s lack of response prior to the crash and his lack of handling of the steering wheel indicate over-reliance on automation. Finally, monitoring of steering wheel torque as a method of ensuring driver engagement was not effective.
We also recently released the preliminary report for the ongoing investigation of a fatal crash involving a pedestrian and an Uber test vehicle with a self-driving system in Tempe, Arizona [but a preliminary report does not discuss the probable cause].
These crashes are a cautionary tale – a cautionary tale not to rely on silver bullets, at least not yet. They remind us that, even as we encourage wonderful, game-changing, cutting-edge technology like fully automated vehicles, we cannot forget about other, near term, lifesaving solutions such as seatbelts, airbags, pedestrian protection, collision avoidance – the vital safety technology that we already have today, technology that we will continue to build on, technology that will continue to save lives. In addition, of course, let’s not forget infrastructure and legislative and other solutions inherent in Vision Zero that you work on every day. The story of the fully automated self-driving car that does not crash is a compelling one, but it cannot be the only story people hear. They also need to hear the stories about current technology that is protecting lives every day and new paradigms of saving lives by reducing exposure to traffic, as we heard about yesterday from Todd Littman.
I hope the brief glimpse into our work at the NTSB will encourage you to stay in touch and share your findings with us. We have other products, many related to the topics you are discussing, and all of which can be found online, for example: pedestrian safety, single unit trucks, rear seats, a bicycle investigation, school buses, and more. We also have our Most Wanted List which are transportation issues we hope to advance with a few good pushes.
Your scientific and technical work and knowledge gives legitimacy to what you say. Your stories show your humanity, so people will remember why you do your work. Real-life stories are information. Information that people will remember. Stories give power to the data to overcome incorrect and misleading information. It is hard for us to believe sometimes, but people need road safety professionals like us to present the data and tell the story.
Science alone and story alone cannot do it, but together, they are a more powerful force than the sum of their parts. That is the synergy, the amplification, the balance of science and story. As researchers, as engineers, as scientists, as people who believe in science and data, it is our job to tell the story of data, to make the data memorable, to make people feel something about the data. At meetings like these, we do not usually talk about our feelings, but it is worth remembering what the great writer Maya Angelou said:
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
We can make people feel something about accurate data and science, using stories, and perhaps they will be inspired to support worthy, evidence-based efforts. Stories are what will inspire people to remember the science. Stories help bring humanity to the data. We can advance transportation safety using science and story.
Please do not hesitate to contact me, or my colleague John Brown, who is with me here today, for more information. Thank you again for inviting me to speak here in Canada at CARSP. In addition, thank you for the important work you do to advance the science of road safety to save lives and prevent injuries.