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GHSA News Release

August 31, 2009

Contact: Jonathan Adkins
(202)789-0942, ext.13
(202)669-9746, cell

Top Highway Safety Awards to be Presented in Georgia

Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey & Wisconsin Home to Winners

WASHINGTON, D.C. & SAVANNAH, Ga.—The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) will present its national highway safety awards during its Annual Meeting in Savannah. GHSA represents state highway safety agencies across the country. The James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award will be presented on Wednesday, September 2. All other awards will be presented at a luncheon on Monday, August 31.

The Association's highest honor, the James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award goes to Illinois State Senator John J. Cullerton of Chicago. Senator Cullerton serves as President of the Illinois State Senate. The Howard Award is named after the late Congressman Jim Howard (D-NJ), who was known as "Mr. Highway Safety" for his work on many highway safety bills from the 1960's through the 1980's.

Throughout his 30-year career in the Illinois State Legislature, Senator Cullerton has amassed a traffic safety record likely surpassing that of any state legislator in the nation. He has led the effort in the state to enact safety legislation on a variety of issues, including: child passenger safety; primary seat belt use; mandatory motorcycle helmet use; .08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC); graduated licensing; and alcohol interlock laws.

Among Senator Cullerton's many legislative achievements, Illinois' primary seat belt law has perhaps been the most significant. Senator Cullerton sponsored the bill and personally advocated for it across the state. At the time, a large majority of states did not have this lifesaving law. Largely because of the Senator's dedication and leadership, a primary bill was passed and signed into law in 2003. Since the law's enactment, the state's seat belt use rate has increased by 14 percent to more than 90 percent.

GHSA will present the Kathryn J.R. Swanson Public Service Award posthumously to Kevin E. Quinlan, who spent 35 years of exemplary service with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. Mr. Quinlan was a dedicated public servant who diligently worked to improve the safety of our roadways.

Mr. Quinlan was a tremendous resource to state legislators, highway safety offices and advocates throughout the nation. He frequently testified on a host of safety issues and worked tirelessly for the advancement of the safety agenda. The focus of his career was saving lives. It was his job, his mission and his passion. He was distinguished by his length of service, his breadth of contributions on a multitude of safety issues, and the gregarious, passionate and tireless manner in which he served.

GHSA is also presenting five Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Awards for notable achievements in highway safety in calendar year 2008. These Awards are named in honor of former GHSA Chairman and Californian Peter K. O'Rourke. Winners are:

Illinois Operation Teen Safe Driving Program, recognizing the Illinois Department of Transportation's Division of Traffic Safety for its unique, statewide teen driving program. This program has reached more than 99,000 teens and translated into lives being saved. Teen fatalities decreased from 155 in 2007 to 93 in 2008. The state credits this program, along with a new GDL law, for the dramatic drop in teen deaths. The program was supported by the Ford Driving Skills for Life program and The Allstate Foundation.

Indiana Supreme Court, Division of State Court Administration Judicial Technology & Automation Committee, for the development of a uniform, electronic ticketing system to enhance the efficiency and consistency of the traffic ticketing process in Indiana. Prior to this new system, Indiana's 92 counties struggled with paper tickets that did not provide any standardization or uniformity. Too often, important information was not collected. With the new system, efficiency is greatly enhanced, and police productivity has increased substantially.

Maryland's Task Force to Combat Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol, for its efforts in assessing the status and progress of statewide efforts to combat impaired driving, identifying deficiencies, proposing solutions, and submitting a comprehensive report to the Governor and General Assembly. Forty-two proposed recommendations were submitted, which included improvements in engineering, enforcement, intervention, treatment, education and the courts. Seven legislative initiatives were included. Four of these have already become law. This effort is a model for states that want to review their progress in addressing impaired driving.

New Jersey Teen Driver Study Commission, for its work in assessing the state of teen driving in New Jersey and making recommendations to reduce the number of teen driver crashes and fatalities. The Commission's final report included 47 recommendations, many of which were new and innovative. The Commission has had a substantial impact: already, new laws have been passed requiring a teen driver decal, lowering the curfew for provisional drivers to 11 p.m., and limiting the number of teen passengers to one unless a parent or guardian is present. This effort is a model for other states that want to comprehensively address the teen driving issue.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, for its year-long series, "Wasted in Wisconsin."  Forty-nine journalists traveled the state and told the story of the abuse of alcohol and the profoundly tragic impact it has had on Wisconsin residents. The series generated substantial discussion throughout the state. While it is too early to assess legislative impact, more than 30 different legislative enhancements have been proposed. In today's economy, amid the decline of print journalism, it is rare for a newspaper to devote so much space to the issue of drunk driving - particularly a year-long series. "Wasted in Wisconsin" was a brave endeavor that will translate into lives being saved.

More detailed descriptions about the winners are online. To request a photo of a winner from the August 31 presentations, contact Jonathan Adkins, or 202-669-9746.

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 and enhance program management. 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