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The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Award

2013 GHSA Annual Meeting Awards program cover 2013 Award Descriptions
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The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Awards recognize notable achievements in the field of highway safety during the prior calendar year by individuals, coalitions, organizations, nonprofit groups, businesses, media, government agencies, universities, or programs. About Peter K. O'Rourke

2013 Winner: Remembering Ally: Distracted Driving
Awareness Campaign

All 2013 Highway Safety Award Winners

Traffic Improvement Association of Michigan logo

On December 28, 2010, Michigan high school student, Ally Zimmerman, was seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash caused by a distracted driver. She died of her injuries early the following year at the age of 16. Her death prompted the Traffic Improvement Association (TIA) of Michigan, in partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation and the teen’s family, to launch Remembering Ally, a campaign dedicated to educating teens and adults about the dangers of distracted driving.

The centerpiece of the awareness initiative is a chillingly dramatized video that depicts a distracted driving crash ( A bevy of volunteers, including high school students, EMS officials, trauma doctors, a tow truck operator, and even U.S. Coast Guard helicopter pilots, were involved in the making of the eightminute video. Since its release in March 2012, the video has been viewed in more than 90 countries, posted on former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s Facebook page, and shown to employees of the Seattle-based Boeing Corporation at its safety fair. The video also won an Eclipse Award, presented by the Western Michigan Film Video Alliance for production excellence, and the campaign was honored by Michigan’s Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission at its annual awards luncheon earlier this year.

To date, more than 200,000 people have been educated as the result of the campaign, which includes the crash video, a TV public service announcement, poster, multimedia presentation, and wristbands. The materials are made available to schools, colleges, universities, and law enforcement agencies throughout Michigan, and nationally via the TIA website, YouTube, and social media sites. Members of Ally’s family often join with safety and law enforcement officials to speak at high schools. Their impactful and moving presentation has brought audience members to tears.

To expand the campaign’s outreach, TIA has also teamed up with the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning to develop a traffic safety resource DVD public safety officials, driver educators and safety advocates can use to educate teens and young adults about the dangers of drunk and distracted driving. The DVD includes PowerPoint presentations and videos, including the eight-minute distracted driving crash video, and speaker notes. It was funded through a grant provided by the Michigan Highway Safety Office and is distributed at no cost.

Recognizing the importance of addressing distracted driving, which claimed the lives of 3,331 Americans and injured 387,000 others in 2011 (NHTSA), the Remembering Ally: Distracted Driving Awareness Campaign is helping to engage and educate teens. “I can honestly say, I’ve sent text messages while driving,” said Jessica (a high school junior), to the Detroit Free Press. “This presentation really changes my motives and everything I think about when driving will be different. I need to keep focused.”

YouTube postings point to the powerful impact the campaign video has not only on teens, but also adults. “Share[d it] on my FB page and encourage[d] others to not only watch, but share as well and make sure their children of driving age watch it, as well as younger kids ... they just may stop someone they are riding in a car with from driving distracted!”

For more information, contact Jim Santilli, TIA of Michigan Executive Director, at 248-334-4971 or