During its annual meeting in San Diego last week, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) presented its most prestigious honor, the James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award, to Dr. James "Jim" Hedlund. The award recognizes Hedlund's efforts to address impaired driving, occupant protection and a range of other safety issues, along with his leadership in data collection and analysis.

Hedlund held key leadership positions with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for 22 years before embarking on a second career as a safety consultant in the late 1990s. In that capacity, he has published more than 80 influential papers and reports on various traffic safety topics. Hedlund is currently helping the Transportation Research Board coordinate the nation's most extensive naturalistic driving study.

The Kathryn J.R. Swanson Public Service Award was presented to Terry Pence, traffic safety section director for the Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) Traffic Operations Division. Pence, the first sitting state highway safety office director to receive the award, was recognized for his leadership in helping to drive Texas' fatality rate to a historic low and for his service to GHSA. Pence has spent his entire career at TxDOT. 

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

  • Florida Department of Transportation Bicycle/Pedestrian Focused Initiative, the first statewide, data-driven program that targeted enforcement and educational resources to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety in 10 priority counties. The Alert Today Alive Tomorrow campaign sparked 6% and 12% decreases, respectively, in pedestrian and bicycle fatalities statewide.
  • Kentucky Drive Down Team, a collaborative effort between East Kentucky Broadcasting and local highway safety officials to improve safety in Pike County, leveraged grassroots outreach, good tickets and incentives, and nearly continuous radio coverage to educate motorists and their passengers about addressing unsafe driving behaviors. Fatalities on some of the state's most dangerous roadways dropped 20%.
  • Remembering Ally: Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign, a Michigan-based education program developed in memory of a 16-year-old high school student killed by a distracted driver, features a chillingly dramatized eight-minute video that has been seen in more than 90 countries, featured on former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's Facebook page, and shown at corporate and high school events nationwide. The program is prompting teens behind the wheel to stay focused on driving.
  • Oregon DOT, Traffic Safety Division E-Crash/E-Citation Program, a  traffic analysis system that is helping law enforcement and traffic safety officials identify and take action to address crash hot spots and problem drivers in days rather than months. The system includes a data warehouse that immediately records, stores and shares both crash and citation information, enabling local and state law enforcement officials to work smarter.
  • Utah "Don't Drive Stupid" Parent Night Program, a component of the state's Zero Fatalities initiative, provides a forum for educating parents about the crash risk for teens and the critical role they play in helping their teens survive their most dangerous driving years. Teen fatal crashes are down 17%, while parents' understanding of Utah's Graduated Driver License (GDL) law and, in particular, the nighttime driving and passenger restrictions (two key provisions shown to reduce teen crash risk) increased 200 and 81%, respectively, since Parent Nights were implemented.

For more information about the award recipients, click here.