The Iowa Safety Management System (SMS) Coordination Committee was formed and began regular monthly meetings in February 1995. At that time a federal mandate was in effect requiring states to implement safety management systems.

The Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT) was designated as the "focal point," and the Iowa DOT Office of Transportation Safety Director was identified as the coordination committee chair. This organization was retained in Iowa after the federal mandate was dropped in January of 1997.

Since the earliest planning stages of the Iowa SMS, the Iowa Department of Public Safety's Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB) has partnered with the Iowa DOT's Office of Transportation Safety to develop and sustain the Iowa SMS. Membership represents both the traditional "4E's" of highway safety: Engineering, Enforcement, Education, Emergency Response, and "Everyone else" as entities related to specific safety concerns are identified.

During its early years, the SMS coordination committee established communication and cooperation among its interdisciplinary members, identified highway related safety problems, defined areas that could be improved, and established task forces to address these problems.

SMS members collaborate to develop and maintain a multi-disciplinary approach that provides a "tool box" of strategies and ideas that may be selected and applied to transportation safety issues. Some of the tools involve hard engineering solutions. By contrast, some tools are less tangible and leverage education, aptitude, awareness, attitudes and other human factors to resolve highway safety issues.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect of Iowa's Safety Management System, is strengthened cooperation and collaboration among its many groups, in helping fill Iowa's transportation safety "tool box" with the most innovative and effective solutions available.

Iowa's Safety Management System for highway safety has continued to succeed through the strength of its diverse membership and its vision for continually improving Iowa's highway safety. Using a multi-discipline approach, SMS is able to identify issues, comprehensively test and evaluate strategies, and ultimately apply tangible solutions that leverage the most return from available resources.

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by Michael D. Pawlovich