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Speeches and Presentations

Speeding Kickoff Event

NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman

Monday, July 08, 2024 |

Chicago, Illinois

As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning, and thank you for joining us as we kick off our summer speeding prevention campaign. Summer is a time for vacations and road trips, loading the family into the car and heading to a national park, the beach, an amusement park, or a landmark like Navy Pier, where we are today.

A road trip isn’t just about the destination, it’s about the ride and all the things you’ll find on the way. But if you’re speeding, you may miss out – or you just might never arrive at all.

That’s because Speeding Catches Up with You, which is the theme of this year’s campaign. Speeding is stressful, it’s inconsiderate to other drivers, and it makes you a danger to yourself, your passengers, and everyone else on the road. We all share the road, so slow down, enjoy the ride, and get to your destination safely.

After all, there are so very many places to go across this great nation. From everything you can find here in the Windy City, from the Cape Cod National Seashore to the Outer Banks, from Big Bend National Park to Joshua Tree National Park – the possibilities are endless.

A few years ago, my husband and I drove from Seattle to Denver and then on to Washington, D.C. We camped at parks in Washington and Utah and took Interstate 70 nearly the whole 1,600 miles from Colorado to our nation’s capital.

We were amazed by how the scenery changed as we crossed the continent – and we made note of when the speed limits changed, too, because speeding isn’t worth the risk.

We want everyone to stay safe, drive responsibly, and make treasured memories together. Our campaign runs today through July 31 and is supported by a $9.5 million national media buy featuring English and Spanish-language ads for TV, radio and digital platforms.

We’re also partnering with the National Park Service to help reduce speeding on park property and remind everyone traveling to slow down and enjoy the ride.

Our first speaker has the privilege of leading one of our nation’s historical parks. Teri Gage is the Superintendent of the Pullman National Historical Park in Chicago.

A 36-year veteran of the National Park Service, Superintendent Gage works with partners and staff to help connect the public to their national parks.

Our national parks are for everyone, and Superintendent Gage wants every American to experience all that our parks have to offer. The keys to a great trip are driving safely and creating good memories that will last a lifetime.

Superintendent, thank you for joining us today.

Superintendent, we appreciate your support and our partnership with the National Park Service. Together, we can ensure everyone has a safe and memorable trip to one of our nation’s scenic and historical parks.

Our next speaker drives fast on the track – but slows down when he’s on the road.

Ross Chastain drives the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Team Chevrolet in the NASCAR Cup Series and raced in yesterday’s Chicago Street Race.

He has four wins and more than 50 top 10 finishes over his NASCAR Cup Series career, and another seven wins and more than 100 top 10 finishes in the Xfinity Series and the Craftsman Truck series too.

In addition to his achievements behind the wheel, Ross is a champion off the track for traffic safety. He is a proud, longstanding supporter of child safety, impaired driving, seat belt and speeding awareness campaigns.

He’s lent his voice to help amplify these campaigns in California, Delaware and Georgia, and we’re proud to have him join us for today’s national launch of Speeding Catches Up with You.

Ross, thanks so much for being here.

Ross, thank you so very much for those heartfelt words. We appreciate all that you do to spread the word of the importance of safe driving, and let’s leave the racing up to the professionals like you. Thanks again, and good luck next weekend at Pocono.

Our next speaker wasn’t able to join us in person but sent us a video because he believes so strongly in slowing down and enjoying the ride.

Xavier Worthy was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft and is an outstanding wide receiver. He played college football for the University of Texas Longhorns, where he earned three All-Big 12 honors.

He holds the 40-yard dash record of 4.21 seconds at the NFL Combine (COM-bine), meaning he’s the fastest player in the NFL.

And while he’s breaking speed records on the field, Xavier slows down behind the wheel and encourages everyone to drive responsibly. Now, let’s hear from Xavier Worthy.

Thank you, Xavier, for taking time out of your busy schedule to share this lifesaving message. We’re honored to have the support of outstanding athletes like Xavier and Ross to remind us all to slow down and enjoy the ride.

As Xavier said, it’s everyone’s responsibility to drive safely and respectfully.

The consequences of choosing to speed can be devastating. Because speeding IS a choice. It’s a choice to be irresponsible, to break the law, and to even hurt yourself or innocent people sharing the road with you.

In 2022, 12,151 people lost their lives in speeding-related crashes. Speeding was involved in 29 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2022, the most recent full year of data available.

Even advancements in vehicle safety and occupant protection cannot keep people fully safe from the dangers of speeding.

Our estimates for 2023 are slightly more encouraging, as we project that speeding-related fatalities declined 4 percent in 2023.

But far too many lives are lost every year because of the choice to speed, and that’s why we need everyone to do their part and slow down.

For those of you who follow NHTSA on social media, you may have seen that we’ve been taking a virtual road trip across the United States. We’ve been reminding our followers of all the beautiful sights to see – and reminding them to slow down and enjoy the ride.

Each post showed a piece of a puzzle hinting to our final stop – which is here at Navy Pier in Chicago.

Well, we’re here, but the puzzle isn’t complete.

Tragically, this puzzle can never be complete because of two people who were taken from us by a speeding driver. Matthew Hamon, pictured here, recently graduated from Judson University in Elgin, Illinois.

He hopes his story will help make our roads safer for everyone.

Matthew, our hearts go out to you, and thank you for your willingness to speak today.

Matthew, I am so very sorry for everything you have been through and for the loss of your close friends. We extend our sympathies to Dallas and Nate’s families too and know that your words and advocacy will ensure their memories live on. Thank you, and best wishes for your continued recovery and healing.

Our ask to the driving public this summer, and all year round, is simple: Slow down. Speeding can get you nowhere fast, and irresponsible driving is stressful and dangerous.

Don’t let the decision to speed keep you from reaching your destination safely, and don’t risk the lives of others on your road.

Let’s make this summer one to remember for all the right reasons. Whether on your way to one of our nation’s glorious national parks and historic sites, or to a NASCAR race or NFL game, or just going to work or school, slow down and enjoy the ride.