Herbert Hoover photo

Address to the Third National Conference on Street and Highway Safety.

May 27, 1930

THE GREAT LOSS of human life in street and highway accidents, and the toll of suffering among surviving victims, is a national concern of grave importance. You thus are gathered here to consider a humanitarian and economic problem which touches every man, woman, and child in the land.

The last National Street and Highway Safety Conference, held in 1926, carefully worked out a program of measures for improvement of traffic conditions. It was then unanimously agreed that responsibility for carrying out these recommendations should lie with the States and local communities, that voluntary organizations also should tend their cooperation locally, and that the National Conference should reconvene only if need for it should appear.

In the years that have intervened there has been much effort to better traffic conditions, but the accident rate nevertheless continues to rise because the increasing volume of traffic outruns our efforts. Without those earlier efforts, conditions today would be much worse, but still the steadily increasing traffic has outrun all measures of safety. This Conference has therefore been called in response to a widespread recognition by Governors, State and municipal officials, and associations devoted to the subject of need for a new appraisal of the situation in the light of experience and for determination of further courses of action upon which all can agree.

It is encouraging to know that in some States and localities, where remedies have been actively applied, the accident increase has been curbed and traffic congestion has been somewhat relieved. The way has thus been pioneered. But universal improvement can come only gradually and through continuous and combined effort in many different fields and on a nationwide scale. The members of this Conference, by working out further remedies through the best qualified judgment, are rendering an invaluable service. It is the application of massed intelligence to the solution of a peculiarly difficult problem.

The Federal Government can properly assist in securing the spread of information and ideas and coordination of activities, but it still remains the fact, nevertheless, that the State and local authorities, with the cooperation of the public, must be responsible for the practical application of remedial measures. The remedies developed by this Conference must therefore rest for their final effectiveness upon the action of the States and the communities, supported in every possible way by the great body of citizenship.

I appreciate the response shown from all parts of the country in the assembly of this Conference, and I am confident that by consistent application of the recommendations which you will develop there may come a distinct betterment in the conditions of our street and highway traffic. On your efforts thus largely hinges the safety and well-being of a large percentage of our people. I congratulate you upon what you have already accomplished and assure you of my best wishes for the success of your further efforts. And I bespeak for you the earnest cooperation of every citizen.

Note: The President spoke to the opening meeting of the Conference held in Washington, D.C.

The Conference, meeting through May 29, 1930, endorsed recommendations for better protection of intersections, improved vehicle maintenance, model traffic laws, expanded traffic records and safety education, and the establishment of a national safety foundation to carry on continuing studies. Follow-up action was entrusted to a continuing executive committee chaired by the Secretary of Commerce and to various research agencies.

Herbert Hoover, Address to the Third National Conference on Street and Highway Safety. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/210066

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