Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Awards

O'Rourke Award

The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Awards recognize notable achievements in the field of highway safety by individuals, coalitions, organizations, nonprofit groups, businesses, media, government agencies, universities or programs. Submissions may include traffic safety programs, plans or legislation in areas including – but not limited to – occupant protection, impaired driving, speeding or aggressive driving, driver distraction, law enforcement, traffic records, emergency medical services and bicyclist, motorcyclist or pedestrian safety.

Nominations for the 2023 O'Rourke Awards closed in March. The awards will be presented during the GHSA 2023 Annual Meeting in New York City.

Peter K. O'Rourke

About Peter K. O'Rourke (1943–1996)

Peter K. O'Rourke, past GHSA Chair and highway safety leader, began his career as a California highway patrolman, where he witnessed the devastating consequences of vehicle crashes firsthand. He served to make highways safer through many roles. He was Director of the California Office for Traffic Safety under two governors and was instrumental in the passage of several important pieces of safety legislation.

The national respect gained from his commitment to highway safety led O'Rourke to be elected Chair of GHSA by his peers. After leaving state government, he served as Vice President of The Century Council, where he worked on prevention of underage drinking and drunk driving.

Past Winners

MADD War Room

MADD was recognized by GHSA for its War Room, which advocated for more than a year for legislation mandating the installation of drunk driving prevention systems in all new cars that could save 9,400 lives annually.

Impact Teen Drivers

Impact Teen Drivers (ITD) was recognized by GHSA for its unwavering commitment to teen traffic safety and ending reckless and distracted driving, leading causes teen fatal crashes.

Families for Safe Streets

Families for Safe Streets was recognized by GHSA for its work advocating for practical solutions to improve roadway safety and supporting families of loved ones killed or injured in traffic crashes.


TransOptions brings together government, business and education leaders, law enforcement officials, advocates and representatives from local civic and service organizations to conduct grassroots public outreach and community engagement coupled with enforcement.

Tennessee Highway Safety Office

In 2017, Arriale Tabson, the Tennessee Highway Safety Office’s Public Information Officer, proposed the idea of using a bus to enforce Tennessee’s distracted driving law and call attention to this risky behavior.

Southern California Association of Governments

The Southern California Association of Governments, or SCAG, and their “Go Human” bicycle and pedestrian safety program first brought together partners across Southern California in 2019 to reduce collisions involving people who walk and bike through a traffic safety advertising campaign.

Puerto Rico Department of Justice

The Puerto Rico Department of Justice DUI Specialized Prosecution Unit was established in 1995 to address Puerto Rico’s high rate of impaired driving fatalities, but prosecutors struggled for the next two decades to convict offenders.

Washington Regional Alcohol Program

The Washington Regional Alcohol Program’s (WRAP) SoberRide program has increased the number of safe rides home in the Washington, D.C. area to record setting levels by removing tens of thousands of potential drunk drivers from the region’s roadways.

Grim Reaper

The South Dakota Office of Highway Safety’s “Jim Reaper” campaign is a marketing strategy designed to keep drivers safe by reminding them that death is always waiting for them to slip up.

Montana FCCLA

The Montana Family, Career and Community Leaders of America’s (FCCLA) Traffic Safety Program is leading the way in saving lives in rural communities across the state.

Connecticut Judicial Branch Superior Court Operations On Line Adjudications

The Connecticut Superior Court’s Online Adjudication System enables individuals who plead “not guilty” to a traffic infraction to participate in the court process electronically, rather than be required to physically appear in court.

The Deutscher Family
Tom and Arlene Deutscher and Donna and Lynn Mickelson are the parents of a young couple, Aaron and Allison Deutscher, who – along with their daughter Brielle and an unborn child – were killed by a drunk driver in a crash on North Dakota roads in July 2012.

New York State Pedestrian Safety Action Plan
The New York State Pedestrian Safety Action Plan is an ambitious partnership of the New York State departments of health and transportation and the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee to protect the state’s most vulnerable road users.

Renew Atlanta
The City of Atlanta’s innovative North Avenue Smart Corridor pilot project uses technology, data and partnerships to address traffic and the related mobility and safety challenges along a busy urban artery.

Watch for Me NC
North Carolina’s Watch for Me NC program is a comprehensive effort to reduce bicyclist and pedestrian deaths.