James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award

Howard Award

The James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award is GHSA's highest award. The award honors an individual for sustained, outstanding leadership in endeavors that significantly improve highway safety. The recipient of this award must have undertaken a concerted, long-term effort to make our nation’s highways safer and made a significant contribution to the field of highway safety. The recipient must have established and implemented programs or been responsible for notable advancements in technology or research throughout the years that yielded a demonstrated national safety impact.

2024 Awards

Nominations for the 2024 Howard Award closed on April 5, 2024. The award will be presented during the GHSA 2024 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, September 7-11.

2023 Awards

The 2023 Howard Award was presented to T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, PhD, MPH, during the GHSA 2023 Annual Meeting in New York City.

Bella Dinh-Zarr and Amy Davey   Bella Dinh-Zarr

Left: 2023 James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award winner T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, Ph.D., MPH (l) and Nevada Office of Traffic Safety Administrator Amy Davey (r). Right: Dinh-Zarr speaks at the Highway Safety Awards Luncheon after accepting her award.

About James J. Howard (1927–1988)

James J. Howard

The career of Representative James J. Howard (D-NJ) was distinguished by his steadfast commitment to highway safety issues. First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1964, Howard — who came to be known as "Mr. Highway Safety" — was named Chair of the Public Works and Transportation Committee in 1980. He had previously chaired the Public Works Energy Subcommittee where, in 1974, he introduced the idea of a 55-mile-per-hour speed limit. In addition, Howard authored an innovative coordinated surface transportation policy and program.

Howard's other notable, enduring contributions to the fight for enhanced highway safety include sponsorship of a myriad of bills, including the following:

  • The Howard-Barnes anti-drunk driving legislation (1982)
  • The Child Restraint Law (1984), which increased funding for state child passenger safety programs
  • Legislation establishing a uniform minimum drinking age of 21 (1984)
  • The National Driver's Register (1982)
  • The Motor Carrier Act (1980), which was the first regulatory reform of the trucking industry in half a century that, among other things, increased federal aid for truck safety programs

Past Winners

T. Bella Dinh-Zarr

T. Bella Dinh-Zarr, Ph.D., MPH, is an unwavering advocate and leader in global roadway safety.

Debbie Hersman

Debbie Hersman is a visionary and pioneering advocate for highway safety who has dedicated her professional career to saving lives across all modes of transportation.

Fred Manocherian

Fred Manocherian is a pioneering and relentless national advocate for highway safety. Next year marks the 60th anniversary of his founding of the National Road Safety Foundation (NRSF), whose mission is to educate people of all ages about the risks of dangerous driving behaviors.

2019 Winner: Candace Ligthner

Candace Lightner has devoted her life to traffic safety. Her commitment arose from heartbreaking circumstances, when her 13-year-old daughter was killed by a chronically drunk driver while walking to a church carnival with a friend.

Sheriff John Whetsel
Sheriff John Whetsel is a passionate national advocate for traffic safety who works to change the way that officers conduct pursuits and enhance their training and to do everything he could to make our roadways safer.

Adrian K. Lund, Ph.D.
Over his 36-year career at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Adrian Lund has led and contributed to work that has been a driver changes that have saved tens of thousands of lives

Dr. David A. Sleet
Dr. David Sleet is the Associate Director for Science with the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

James Fell
Over the course of his 45-year career, James Fell played an instrumental role in bringing about one of the most remarkable U.S. traffic safety achievements.

Kathleen Rice
A law enforcement official and fearless innovator, the Honorable Kathleen Rice, District Attorney for Nassau County, New York, has used her position to advance highway safety

Dr. James Hedlund
Follow the data, follow the science. That aptly describes Dr. James “Jim” Hedlund’s highway safety philosophy, which he has honed over the past 37 years.

John Lacey
In his more than 40 years of program implementation, project evaluation and policy advocacy, John Lacey has been a true highway safety trailblazer.

Dr. Herb Simpson
The 2011 James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award is presented posthumously to Dr. Herb Simpson for his outstanding contributions to the field of highway safety.

Chuck Hurley
Charles "Chuck" Hurley is the recipient of the 2010 James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award.

Senator John J. Cullerton
Illinois Senator John J. Cullerton is the recipient of the 2009 James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award.

Lt. Col. James E. Champagne
In his more than 40-year career, Jim Champagne has brought unmatched commitment, passion and zeal to highway safety.