National Highway Safety Awards Presented in Seattle

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News Releases

August 30, 2016

Contact: Amadie Hart,

National Highway Safety Awards Presented in Seattle

Traffic Injury Prevention Researcher, Prominent Traffic Safety Policy Consultant, and Four Innovative Programs Are Honored

SEATTLE, Wash. – Today, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) presented its 2016 highway safety awards to two individuals who have made a strong impact on improving highway safety nationally and four programs focusing on the country's foremost highway safety challenges at a luncheon as part of its 2016 Annual Meeting in Seattle. The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( sponsored the luncheon.

GHSA presented its most prestigious honor, the James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award, to David A. Sleet, Ph.D., Associate Director for Science with the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Sleet's contributions in bringing the public health and behavioral science approach to traffic safety are unparalleled. His groundbreaking research has led to such achievements as improved child passenger safety laws, the adoption of the national 0.08% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) standard and safer airbag designs. Today, every state has a .08 BAC level and child passenger safety laws are in place across the nation. Dr. Sleet's lifetime of work, spanning 37 years and three continents, continues to save lives on our roadways.

The Kathryn J.R. Swanson Public Service Award was presented to Betty Mercer, a former Governor's Representative at the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning who now runs a consulting practice focusing on traffic safety policy, planning and leadership development. During her 13 years as a consultant, Mercer has developed a wide variety of tools and resources that highway safety office directors find indispensable to managing their offices, in addition to working on a variety of critical demonstration projects for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). More broadly, she continues to mentor GHSA staff and countless highway safety office directors on how to effectively manage state programs. A former Vice Chair at GHSA and current member of the Transportation Research Board Occupant Protection Committee, Mercer has dedicated her entire career to helping states save lives.

GHSA also presented four Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Awards for outstanding highway safety accomplishments during the previous calendar year to the following programs:

  • The Connecticut DOT and UConn Transportation Safety Research Center Crash Data Improvement, a partnership that developed a statewide electronic reporting system based on the national Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) that provides real time crash data to all highway safety users. The tools developed through this program are easily transferable to other states looking to modernize their crash reporting systems. As a result of this project, crash report processing times have been reduced from 16 months to two weeks, and the number of errors that have to be manually corrected have dropped to just one percent of all MMUCC reports.
  • The New York State Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and ITSMR DRE Tablet Application, which allows Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) officers to use tablet computers to enter their observations and assessments of persons suspected of drugged driving. This partnership between the New York State Governor's Traffic Safety Committee and the University of Albany Institute for Traffic Safety Management and Research (ITSMR) comes as the drugged driving problem continues to grow, and law enforcement officers need tools to help them evaluate impaired motorists, as well as data to help them better understand where to focus enforcement efforts. As this tablet application is implemented in more states, it can make our roads safer from drug-impaired drivers.
  • The North Carolina Initiative to Reduce Underage Drinking, a North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Commission campaign to minimize the cost of underage drinking to the state. The Initiative's Talk It Out effort is based on quantitative and qualitative research, and encourages parents to talk with their children about the dangers of underage drinking. Talk It Out focuses on raising parental awareness, eliminating misconceptions, educating retailers, and coordinating with law enforcement agencies.
  • Texas Municipal Traffic Safety Initiatives (MTSI), a program first established in 2008 to strengthen the ability of municipal courts to combat impaired driving. MTSI was designed to educate the judiciary in the state of Texas on impaired driving laws, issues, legislation, and trends and to provide courts with the resources to educate their communities on the dangers of impaired driving. This past year, MTSI provided more than 9,000 hours of training, assisted 271 courts with anti-DUI exhibits, and shipped impaired driving resources to more than 1,500 courts and other municipal organizations.

More information on these awards can be found at To request a photo from the awards presentation, contact Amadie Hart at, or call 202-580-7933. The full GHSA Annual Meeting schedule is available online.

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About GHSA
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 Find us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at @GHSAHQ.

About the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility ( is a leader in the fight to eliminate drunk driving and underage drinking and is funded by distillers to promote responsible decision-making regarding beverage alcohol. For more information, go to