The Governors Highway Safety Association on Sept. 1 presented its most prestigious award to James Fell, a scientist who played an instrumental role in reducing alcohol-related fatal crashes in the U.S. by one-third between 1982 and 1995.

Fell, senior scientist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, received GHSA’s James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award during a luncheon ceremony in Nashville. The event was part of the association’s annual meeting.

“Over the course of his 45-year career, Fell has worked to help researchers, activists and policy makers design, implement and evaluate programs and policies to reduce drinking and driving in the United States,” GHSA said.

Fell has been with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Maryland since 2001. He formerly worked at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, from 1969 to1999.

GHSA presented the Kathryn J.R. Swanson Public Service Award to Barbara Harsha, former GHSA executive director. She led the association’s headquarters office for 25 years, from 1988 until her retirement in 2013.

GHSA also handed out five Peter K. O’Rourke Special Achievement Awards to the following programs, in recognition of their highway safety achievements:

  • ADEPT Driver teenSMART Program, a computer-based training program that uses neurocognitive instruction to improve crash avoidance skills in teenage drivers.
  • California Highway Patrol Safety and Farm Labor Vehicle Education Program, an effort to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities attributed to farm labor vehicles in California.
  • Ocean City Police Department Walk Smart Program, a collaborative approach to reducing the number of pedestrian crashes in a Maryland beachfront community. 
  • Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe (B.R.A.K.E.S.), a North Carolina organization founded by NHRA drag racing star Doug Herbert in the wake of the tragic loss of his two young sons in a highway crash in 2008. The group provides free advanced driver’s education through its Teen Pro-Active Driving Course program.
  • Virginia Highway Safety Office Traffic Records Electronic Data System Ignition Interlock Project, an effort to standardize and automate the statewide ignition-interlock workflow. The system provides for automated collection and tracking of interlock installs, system alerts at various levels of the case lifecycle, centralized data access for all 24 local alcohol safety action programs and the four interlock vendors, DUI offender data for analysis, and interlock vendor data downloads.

The awards ceremony was sponsored by the Allstate Foundation and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility.