GHSA Presents National Highway Safety Awards in Cincinnati

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News Releases

September 27, 2011

Contact: Jonathan Adkins

GHSA Presents National Highway Safety Awards in Cincinnati

WASHINGTON, D.C. & CINCINNATI, Ohio—Today, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) honored its 2011 highway safety award winners during the GHSA Annual Meeting in Cincinnati. GHSA represents the state and territorial highway safety offices across the country that implement programs to address behavioral highway safety issues.

GHSA’s most prestigious award, the James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award, was presented posthumously to Dr. Herb Simpson, President and CEO of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) from 1975 to 2006, for his outstanding contributions to the field of highway safety through his groundbreaking research. Dr. Simpson’s work was instrumental in identifying hard core drunk drivers as a significant contributor to highway fatalities and helped pioneer the concept of graduated driver licensing (GDL), among many other contributions.

GHSA bestowed the Kathryn J.R. Swanson Public Service Award to retired National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Associate Administrator Marlene Klein Markison for her commitment to advancing effective highway safety programs across the country. Markison’s knowledge of the intricacies and elements of the many state grant programs was unmatched. She fostered an enduring partnership with GHSA that improved the management and efficiencies in state highway safety offices nationwide.

GHSA also presented five Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Awards for outstanding achievements in highway safety during the prior calendar year. The 2011 winners are:

  • AARP Driver Safety Program, which is a program that provides all drivers – especially those 50 years of age and older – with instruction to help improve their driving skills. In addition to making the roads safer in local communities, the program also helps prolong the independence of older drivers. In 2010, under new leadership and with an enhanced commitment from AARP, the program reached 464,307 participants in 27,141 classroom courses taught by more than 7,000 volunteers in all 50 states D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. An additional 61,840 participants took an online version of the course.
  • Traffic Safety Coalition, which is a diverse group of safety advocates brought together to demonstrate that traffic safety cameras are effective at deterring dangerous and illegal driving behavior. In 2010, despite their success in reducing injuries and fatalities, traffic cameras in Illinois were in danger of being deemed illegal by the state legislature. The Traffic Safety Coalition worked to reshape public opinion on these lifesaving cameras. The coalition successfully reframed the debate to focus on the red-light running fatalities and speed-related fatalities on U.S. roadways every year, stressing how cameras help police enforce traffic safety laws and deter drivers from breaking the law. The bill to ban traffic safety cameras did not pass, and the Traffic Safety Coalition preserved Illinois communities’ ability to utilize safety cameras as critical tools to minimize injuries and fatalities in the state.
  • Missouri Traffic and Highway Safety Division, which spearheaded a statewide safety coalition that helped the state realize its fifth consecutive year of decreases in traffic fatalities and disabling injuries in 2010. Recognizing that a cooperative effort was necessary to save lives on Missouri roadways, the Traffic and Highway Safety Division launched the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, an association of safety advocates, law enforcement, engineers, EMS officials, educators, and community partners that worked to set goals and strategies to reduce fatalities and injuries. Under the Missouri Traffic and Highway Safety Division’s leadership, the Coalition successfully combined engineering, enforcement and education help the state achieve traffic fatality levels not seen since 1950.
  • The No Refusal Program, which uses police, prosecutors, judges, and medical professionals to obtain mandatory  blood samples from suspected impaired drivers who refuse breath tests. The strategy was launched by Montgomery County, Texas prosecutor Warren Diepraam. In his jurisdiction, No Refusal helped reduce DWI fatality charges by 70 percent and DWI cases by 30 percent. The test refusal rate fell to 25 percent from the state average of 45 percent. In 2010, as a NHTSA prosecutor fellow, Diepraam helped bring No Refusal into other states and trained thousands of prosecutors, judges, and police on appropriate procedures. Joining together police, prosecutors, nurses and judges toward a common cause, No Refusal has helped prevent death and tragedy on Texas roadways as it continues expand across the nation.
  • Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS), which is a Texas-based peer-to-peer safety program for young drivers that makes teens directly responsible for both the development and delivery of traffic safety messages to their peers. TDS has had a strong positive impact in Texas, and its influence is beginning to be felt in other states. Since the program’s inception in 2002, Texas has seen a 40 percent decrease in the frequency of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes. Last year, and despite budget cutbacks, TDS grew by 20 percent, adding more than 100 schools to its active roster and expanded to Connecticut, Georgia and North Carolina. TDS also refreshed its website (, and expanded both its social media presence and its annual contest awarding prizes for the best teen-developed posters, video messages, and overall school program.

More details about the winners are online at To request a photo from the Sept. 27 presentation ceremony, contact Kara Macek at or 202-789-0942, ext. 14.

An agenda of the GHSA Annual Meeting is available online at:

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The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a nonprofit association representing the highway safety offices of states, territories, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. GHSA provides leadership and representation for the states and territories to improve traffic safety, influence national policy, enhance program management and promote best practices. Its members are appointed by their Governors to administer federal and state highway safety funds and implement state highway safety plans. Contact GHSA at 202-789-0942 or visit