CMT at GHSA: Bridging the gap between roadway safety and real-time analytics

September 22, 2023

The Governer’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has long represented the epitome of road safety strategies across the US, setting the tone, policies, and interventions that shape our highways. Their conferences cover a vast range of subjects, from seatbelt usage to the intricacies of modern-day challenges, all with the goal of safer roads.

In late August, CMT presented at GHSA, highlighting the intersection of tech-driven insights and grassroots safety initiatives. This relationship with GHSA emphasizes our shared goal of making the world’s roads and drivers safer. It also highlights the importance of partnering across the road safety ecosystem to improve traffic safety and reduce roadway fatalities.

GHSA represents the 50 states and territories responsible for formulating, implementing, and analyzing road safety strategies. These safety initiatives started during the 1960s and 1970s, highlighting behavioral aspects of road safety that required a coordinated national strategy. One of the first areas of focus was the usage of seatbelts.

Historically, Americans were reluctant to wear seatbelts, even after their mandatory inclusion in cars. Another safe driving organization, the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency, has not only been responsible for vehicular equipment regulations but also for encouraging road users to adhere to those regulations. Enforcement plays a pivotal role, ensuring that drivers obey speed limits, stop at stop signs, and respond appropriately to traffic signals.

However, as the complexities of road safety issues evolved, from seatbelt usage to more specific concerns like alcohol and substance impairment, so did the approaches to address them. Today, with the advancement of technology and a digitally connected society, road safety challenges have become more complex.

In 2019, NHTSA reported over 14 million crashes across the US. When these crashes happen, CMT offers data-driven insights leveraging the sensor data from smartphones and IoT devices. We use artificial intelligence to generate granular data points on the crash that we package into comprehensive crash reports. These reports help reveal the risk factors that contribute to these crashes, like distracted driving. These in-depth analyses extend well beyond what typical police reports offer, which tend to focus only on severe injuries or fatalities.

CMT’s SVP of Strategy and Development, Ryan McMahon, shares a personal story about a recent crash involving his sister traveling at 45mph. “Despite only having two-tenths of a second to react to a car coming out in front of her, my sister managed to decelerate to 35mph, minimizing the impact. Through CMT’s advanced analytics, it was determined that she was neither speeding nor distracted. Thankfully, my sister and the other driver had no injuries.  These insights into what happened before the crash are invaluable,” McMahon said.  

According to CMT’s research, 34% of crashes occur when drivers are holding their phones just a minute before the crash. Road risk has only increased since the pandemic, with fatalities surging to a 16-year high. The methodologies and analytical tools rooted in tackling these initial problems like seatbelt usage are no longer enough for today’s driving culture and challenges.

Working with road safety organizations and actively participating in conferences with organizations like GHSA strengthens our shared commitment to enhancing road safety. When we attend these conferences, we share our Distracted Driving Report with attendees, which McMahon calls “the most comprehensive research looking at individual driving behaviors and distraction at scale.” Over the years, CMT has contributed to additional road safety research by partnering with institutions like the Stanford Computational Policy Lab, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Federal Highway Association.