Momentum: Issue #79

August 30, 2021

New Beginnings

As Labor Day weekend approaches and ushers in the unofficial end of summer, this week signals the beginning of a new school year for many teachers, parents, and kids across the country. For me, this week also brings another new and very exciting beginning as ITS America’s President & CEO – and I couldn’t be more thrilled. 

Our vision – a better future transformed by intelligent mobility, one that is safer, greener, and smarter – is at the center of all we do. It is a powerful incentive for our entire staff, and it motivates me every day.  

I begin my new role at such an important time. With Congress poised to make historic investments in transportation, this is our best opportunity to tell the story of how technology can transform transportation in a way that makes meaningful differences for people – no matter who they are or where they live. We always talk about statistics – how many fatalities, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions, how much congestion. Statistics are important – they measure progress, or the lack of it. They show the scale of the challenges we are trying to address.  Statistics, however, are the opposite of personal – they are often dismissed or hard to grasp because of their scale.  

I feel strongly that it is our job to translate the compelling case for deploying intelligent transportation technologies into how they can make an impact in people’s daily lives. My twin boys are 15, which means they will be driving soon – one of the reasons I am so personally invested in our fight for V2X technologies and ensuring they will work in the 5.9GHz spectrum. Four students from their high school were in a car crash one week after graduation this summer – two killed, two critically injured. No family should have to go through such a loss when it is preventable.  

Technology also gives us the capacity to break down the barriers that exist in our transportation system and provide opportunities that have not been accessible to everyone. How can we use it to overcome these barriers and deliver a robust system that provides more equitable access to safer, cleaner mobility and allows all to thrive?  To shape this future, we must include more diverse perspectives and voices at the table to ensure we lift everyone as we make investments to transform our transportation system.  This is a key goal of our MobilityXX initiative, which you will hear more about this fall.  

ITS America has a powerful voice and is in an ideal position to make this case. State and local agencies will soon make decisions on how to spend these new resources. Technology will be eligible under this new law – but investing in it is a choice. We can demonstrate that technology is central to ensuring access and opportunity as well as safer roads and more efficient, cleaner mobility.  

Providing information to and educating local policymakers and public officials about the benefits of these technologies are squarely in line with ITS America’s multi-year strategic plan, which the board adopted last year to realign our priorities and operations with our vision. This year, we launched our six standing committees, and they are doing great policy and programmatic work advancing our core issues.  

We are facing a critical moment – business as usual hasn’t worked so far, and it won’t work now. Last year, when so many fewer people were driving, there was an eight percent increase in road fatalities. Climate reports are dire, and the impacts are devastating, from record heat waves in the Pacific Northwest and rampant western wildfires to deadly flash floods. Emissions are choking neighborhood air and resulting in higher rates of childhood asthma and early mortality, which we see disproportionally in minority and low-income communities across the country. Congestion, which had all but disappeared during the height of the pandemic, is back and again stealing time – our most precious resource. Like millions of working mothers, I know that any time gained has immeasurable value. Technology can and must help reverse these trends.  

ITS America can play an integral role in helping to change these outcomes and making transportation more accessible for people across the country. This is such an exciting time for our industry, and the work we did – with your help – to develop our strategic plan built a strong foundation for expanding our reach as we move forward.  

As I said when the board named me for this position, I am thrilled and humbled about this opportunity. I am grateful for the board’s confidence and know that ITS America is stronger than ever because of your engagement. Together, we will continue to advance the intelligent transportation industry. Thank you for all you do every day to support our mission.