Transformation: by Noelle Hunter, Ph.D., Executive Director, Kentucky Office of Highway Safety

Special Contributing Article by:

Noelle Hunter, Ph.D., Executive Director

Kentucky Office of Highway Safety

Transformation. It's a trending topic in today's culture. We're captivated by home renovation shows and body makeovers because we love seeing the fruit of hard work and goal setting. It's no different in the public sector, but I would argue it's even more difficult to do. It requires reshaping cultures and challenging our notions of "doing business as usual". Governor Bevin's vision has been to reform state government through innovation, cost savings and investing in initiatives that protect and revitalize our Commonwealth and its citizens. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet shares this vision and is guided by a strong mission to provide a safe, efficient, environmentally sound and fiscally responsible transportation system that delivers economic opportunity and enhances the quality of life in Kentucky.

Safety is our top priority, and as the new Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS), I'm honored to work with committed teams in the Divisions of Highway Safety Programs and Incident Management to prevent loss of life and to respond to incidents that impede the flow of travelers, goods and services on our roadways.

Our work is guided by the Strategic Highway Safety Plan, a living document to increase coordination, communication and cooperation among state, federal and local agencies, and other highway safety advocates.  KBT is one of our strongest allies, and within my first week on the job, Juva Barber reached out to welcome me and to share the longstanding relationship between KBT and KOHS.

KBT was at the table with our other partners this week at the quarterly meeting of the Governor's Executive Committee on Highway Safety.  We laid out an agenda for Highway Safety that includes data-driven education and enforcement strategies, performance measurement for continuous improvement of our vital initiatives, and innovations that reduce fatalities and serious injuries among motorists, responders, bicyclists and pedestrians.  We talked about expanding our messaging for a more inclusive focus on the deadly 4 D's--- distracted, drowsy, drugged and drunk driving.  We also affirmed our unwavering support for law enforcement as our first line of defense against traffic fatalities.

Every day, I receive the Daily Fatality Summary and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) report.  I confess that the first week or so on the job, I reviewed the numbers foremost with an eye towards safety enhancements to move Kentucky Toward Zero Deaths.  One morning, I realized I wasn't looking at numbers.  I was looking at the names, ages and tragic deaths of people--- grandparents, moms, dads, and children.  From that moment, I vowed to act justly upon the trust that the governor placed in me and in our Cabinet to progressively shorten those reports through education, engineering, emergency response and enforcement.  Transformation often begins with a renewing of the mind.

For KOHS, it all comes down to ever-increasing and intentional efforts to preserve lives as citizens travel our exquisite Commonwealth.  I cannot imagine a more sacred public trust, but I can envision a future in which Zero Deaths is our reality.

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