Stakeholder Spotlight: Joseph Marek

The Safety Center of the National Center for Rural Road Safety is happy to introduce our readers to Stakeholder Team member Joseph Marek.  Joe is the Traffic Safety Program Manager for Clackamas County, Oregon and we are happy to have him on board as a county agency representative.

Joe has always had a love of transportation and it was only fitting that he became a transportation engineer after pursuing a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Idaho. He enjoys all modes of transportation- walking, biking, motorcycling, even horseback riding! Using all of these different modes has certainly helped diversify his perspective as a designer.

His career with Clackamas County began nearly 28 years ago after some time spent in consulting. While he has always been interested in safety, it started to progressively increase after he assumed the role as Staff Liaison for the Clackamas County Traffic Safety Commission in the mid-1990’s. This group helped sharpen his focus on safety. Joe says “safety resonated with me due to a severe crash that my family was in when I was very young resulting in severe injuries to my parents.” One of his most important career achievements was leading the effort at Clackamas County to develop a Transportation Safety Action Plan in 2012.

The safety program has grown at the County to where there is now a Traffic Safety Program with its own budget line and there are County-wide performance measures associated with fatalities that are reported quarterly. Joe shared with us that he has “…an incredible team of professionals that I work with that help get all of the good work done”.
The Safety Center asked Joe if he would share an example of a safety activity that he was involved with, or one that could be a best practice for others.Joe makes three suggestions that can really allow an individual to help make a positive impact on local road safety –
  1. Leading the effort for a Transportation Safety Action Plan
  2. Participating in a road safety audit
  3. Sharing traffic safety efforts at community meetings
We also asked Joe if he could share one sentiment with the safety community, what would it be? He gives us this food for thought: “Traffic Safety starts with you! As I do my work I believe that everyone deserves to get home safely to their family every night. I can set a good example by being a safe user of the transportation system regardless of my mode of choice. Also, I believe it is very important not to be judgmental about people since we do not know their situation when a crash occurs. People do not wake up in the morning with the intention of being in a crash. When we look at our own transportation system, we need to think about it from the user’s perspective and, for a moment, cast aside our knowledge of standards to imagine what the road is not communicating to a driver that may be a contributing cause to a crash. Then, we can better figure out what we can do to improve it. Lastly, sometimes what we do might not work and it’s ok to admit that and make changes”.