BY KEITH D. SQUIRES, COMMISSIONER OF THE UTAH DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
Sometimes a small adjustment can have big effects. The aerodynamics and mechanics of cycling come to mind: as I work to become a better cyclist, I’ve learned about the importance of a technical bike fitting.
By making sure all aspects of your bike are adjusted properly for your body’s dimensions, you can make sure you’re maximizing your power output, muscle usage and facing each ride best set up to face challenges and find success.
This maxim also applies to government entities and working groups – ensuring all aspects of an organization are adjusted properly can set them up to be highly successful. One of the first changes I implemented as part of the ONE DPS philosophy was to make an adjustment to the DPS organizational chart (see page) – I moved the Highway Safety Office (HSO) under the Utah Highway Patrol (UHP). Following careful analysis of DPS’ diverse divisions, I recognized the potential to strengthen and streamline the existing relationship between these two divisions and enhance their effectiveness.
This small adjustment has created the perfect alignment – benefitting the divisions, DPS and the people of Utah.
Utilizing federal funds, the HSO addresses behavioral highway safety issues such as seat belt use, impaired driving prevention and pedestrian and bicyclist safety. It works to change driver behavior through a combination of education and enforcement. Every trooper knows that education and enforcement form the basis of their daily activities. And as one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the state, UHP has been the HSO’s primary partner in its efforts to change driver behavior.
By moving the HSO under the umbrella of the UHP, the development of a truly streamlined relationship became possible, as the HSO and UHP are now able to directly coordinate on national enforcement initiatives, such as the Click It or Ticket and Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. When UHP identifies traffic safety issues, they work with HSO to identify data driven methods to address them and work together to utilize media to share specific information with the public. [trying to say that it’s not just HSO pushing things to UHP but that UHP can push to HSO too] The divisions coordinate on media campaigns and events, maximizing material resources and increasing the scale and scope of their message exposure.
When I made the organizational change, I could not have predicted the significant traffic safety legislation that would pass in the ensuing years. But changes to our distracted driving law and the passage of a primary seat belt law make the move, in retrospect, seem almost prescient. Because of their new direct relationship, the HSO and UHP were ideally positioned to quickly and thoroughly meet both the education and enforcement elements of these laws. They were immediately able to coordinate both strategic and tactical approaches to educating the public about the laws and educating law enforcement agencies statewide about the nuances of the seat belt law.
As social media increasingly becomes a way to educate and engage with the public, the HSO identifies the UHP as its “power partner.” Since the UHP accounts have more followers, friends and subscribers, the HSO’s traffic safety messages presented through the UHP channels reach greater audiences and generate increased engagement. Helen Knipe of our HSO explained that there’s a quotient of coolness and credibility that UHP lends to its messages that is invaluable. If you haven’t been able to see some of these examples of social media symbiosis, I encourage you to visit the UHP’s Facebook page, Instagram account and YouTube Channel.
Challenges still loom on the horizon for the UHP and HSO – traffic fatalities in 2015 are on track to increase for a second consecutive year, our population is increasing meaning more people are traveling more miles, and issues such as drug impaired driving are emerging. I know that they are ready to effectively address these challenges and any others that arise, because the UHP and HSO have been and continue to be led by and comprised of dedicated, innovative and high-performing individual – and now they are in perfect alignment.