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.

Nominations for the 2021 Howard Award must be submitted online by April 16, 2021. The award will be presented on Tuesday, Sept. 14, at the GHSA 2021 Annual Meeting in Denver.

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

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. His passion was ignited by a personal tragedy – the death of his first wife and 2-year-old daughter in a car crash that occurred when a law enforcement officer ran a stop sign during a police pursuit.

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 of policy changes, business changes, and behavioral changes that have saved tens of thousands of lives and spanned a wide range of issues that impact th

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). The unanimous choice of this year's awards committee, Dr.

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: the reduction of alcohol-related fatal crashes by one third between 1982 and 1995.

Kathleen Rice

A law enforcement official and fearless innovator, the Honorable Kathleen Rice, District Attorney for Nassau County, New York, has used her position for the last eight-and-a-half years to advance highway safety at every level and through all the means at her disposal: spearheading prevention prog

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. A mathematician by training, Jim is skilled at taking complex, sometimes abstract problems and boiling them down into understandable parts.

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 through his groundbreaking research. Dr.

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.

Dr. Robert Voas

Dr. Robert B. Voas is one of the most well-respected and influential traffic safety researchers in the country. Throughout his career, Dr.

Senator Ben Brown

Senator Ben Brown has been instrumental in reducing deaths and injuries on Oklahoma's roadways. His work began in 1981 when the people elected him to the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Dr. Marilyn J. Bull

Dr. Marilyn Bull has fought for the most vulnerable occupants of our roadways—children with special needs. Without her unfailing dedication to a small and previously overlooked area of highway safety, it is unlikely that such improvements would have ever been made.