GHSA Highway Safety Awards
Each year, in conjunction with its Annual Meeting, GHSA recognizes various organizations and individuals for achievements in the field of highway safety through its Highway Safety Awards.
There are three different award categories, outlined below.
The James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award is GHSA's highest award. The award honors an individual for sustained, outstanding leadership in endeavors that significantly improve highway safety.
Oil on canvas by
Keith Mueller, 1984.
Collection of U.S. House of Representatives
About James J. Howard (1927 - 1988)
The career of Representative James J. Howard (D-NJ) was distinguished by his steadfast commitment to highway safety issues. First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1964, Howard—who came to be known as "Mr. Highway Safety"—was named chair of the Public Works and Transportation Committee in 1980. Howard previously had chaired the Public Works Energy Subcommittee where, in 1974, he introduced the idea of a 55-mile-perhour speed limit. In addition, Howard authored an innovative coordinated surface transportation policy and program.
Howard's other notable, enduring contributions to the fight for enhanced highway safety include sponsorship of a myriad of bills, including:
- The Howard-Barnes anti-drunk driving legislation (1982);
- The Child Restraint Law (1984), which increased funding for state child passenger safety programs;
- Legislation establishing a uniform minimum drinking age of 21 (1984);
- The National Driver's Register (1982); and
- The Motor Carrier Act (1980), which was the first regulatory reform of the trucking industry in half a century that, among other things, increased federal aid for truck safety programs.
GHSA's newest award, introduced in 2008, honors an individual who has made notable improvements in the management or implementation of a highway safety program or policy, or provided outstanding service to GHSA, federal safety agencies, or other national highway safety organizations.
About Kathryn J.R. Swanson (1954 - 2008)
Kathryn J. R. Swanson was a dedicated public servant whose passionate commitment to highway safety guided her throughout her career.
From 1998 to 2007, she served as the Director of Minnesota's Office of Traffic Safety in the state's Department of Public Safety. In her role as director, Swanson administered the state and community highway safety grant programs in Minnesota.
During her tenure, Minnesota achieved record high seat belt use and record lows in fatalities. Kathy helped launch Minnesota's Toward Zero Deaths program by collaborating with the "four E" agencies to encourage Minnesota to achieve this ambitious goal.
Prior to being appointed Director, Swanson spent nearly 25 years in the Office of Traffic Safety serving a variety of roles. As one of the longest tenured members of the state highway safety community, Kathy's counsel was frequently sought by other states and organizations around the country.
Swanson's success in Minnesota, her strong commitment to highway safety and the respect and support of her state peers led to her being elected to numerous positions within GHSA, including Chairman of the Association.
Under Swanson's leadership, GHSA developed its positions on the reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (TEA- 21) and actively advocated them before Congress. Swanson also urged Congress to appropriate funds for highway safety programs in a more timely manner.
The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Awards recognize notable achievements in the field of highway safety by individuals, coalitions, organizations, nonprofit groups, businesses, media, government agencies, universities, or programs. The achievement must have been successfully accomplished during the prior calendar year.
About Peter K. O'Rourke (1943 - 1996)
Peter K. O'Rourke, past GHSA chairman and highway safety leader, began his career as a California highway patrolman, where he witnessed the devastating consequences of vehicle crashes first-hand. He served to make highways safer through many roles. He was director of the California Office for Traffic Safety under two governors and was instrumental in the passage of several important pieces of safety legislation. The national respect gained from his commitment to highway safety led O'Rourke to be elected chairman of GHSA by his peers. After leaving state government, he served as vice president of The Century Council, where he worked on prevention of underage drinking and drunk driving.