2016 Winner Betty J. Mercer

Kathryn J.R. Swanson Public Service Award
Betty J. Mercer

Throughout her career, Betty Mercer has made significant contributions to improving highway safety in both her home state of Michigan and nationwide. Mercer is a former Governor’s Representative at the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning who has, for the past 13 years, run Mercer Consulting Group LLC, a consulting practice that focuses on traffic safety policy, planning and leadership development. She is an expert on highway safety office administration, a mentor to both GHSA members and staff, and an invaluable resource to GHSA and to state highway safety offices across the country. When a difficult dilemma regarding the management of a state highway safety program arises, a familiar refrain is, “Call Betty.” Mercer is a “doer” who doesn’t seek the limelight, but works behind the scenes to do the critical work that is necessary to help states save lives.

Over the past decade, Mercer has written a number of resources that are indispensible to running a highway safety office, such as Guidance for Developing Highway Safety Plans, Policies & Procedures Manual, Monitoring Advisory, Maintenance of Effort Advisory, and several Management Review documents. In particular, she was instrumental in the creation of an “MR Elements” document and accompanying processes to help ensure consistency in the application of the MR process among different states. This took a lot of time and energy on her part, and state highway safety offices have all benefited greatly from her efforts.She continues to update these documents to reflect changing federal and regulatory guidance, from SAFTEA-LU to MAP-21 to today’s FAST Act.

Mercer has specialized in successfully convening diverse groups to accomplish complex goals. During her tenure in Michigan, she helped create the primary safety belt coalition, the repeat offender task force, the Michigan Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking, the Michigan Traffic Safety Summit, the state safety management system and the Traffic Records Coordinating Committee. She has served as the program organizer for the National Strategic Highway Safety Plan Peer Exchange and the AASHTO National Safety Leadership Forum; conducted assessments for GHSA, NHTSA and the Ohio Highway Safety Office; and worked on a variety of demonstration projects for NHTSA.

Mercer is a former Vice Chair at GHSA, former chair and current member of the Transportation Research Board Occupant Protection Committee, and serves as a member of the University of Michigan Traffic Research Institute External Advisory Board. In addition, she serves as Director of the Coalition for a Safe and Responsible Michigan and a member of the National Electronic Stability Control Advisory Coalition.