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9/15/2008 - Top Highway Safety Awards to be Presented in Arizona

Washington, DC and Scottsdale, AZ – The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) will present its annual highway safety awards on Tuesday, September 9 in Scottsdale, Arizona as part of GHSA’s Annual Meeting. GHSA represents state highway safety agencies across the country.

The Association’s highest honor, the James J. Howard Highway Safety Trailblazer Award, goes to Lt. Colonel James E. Champagne of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The award is named after Congressman Jim Howard (D-NJ), who was known as “Mr. Highway Safety” for his work on many highway safety bills from the 1960s through the 1980s.

Champagne brought unmatched commitment to highway safety during his more than 40-year career. He saw the tragic effects of unsafe driving first-hand having spent more than 20 years as a Louisiana State Trooper, culminating with his promotion to Lt. Colonel, Chief of Staff. From 1996-2008 he fought to prevent more traffic fatalities serving as Louisiana’s Governor’s Highway Safety Representative and executive director of the state’s highway safety commission.

Champagne’s strong leadership in Louisiana escalated to the national level, translating into various leadership positions, including the chairmanship of GHSA from 2004-2006. As Chairman, Champagne championed highway safety with courage and conviction bringing renewed vigor,  national attention and a focus on policy solutions for difficult issues such as drunk driving, speeding and motorcycle helmet use.

GHSA will present the inaugural Kathryn J.R. Swanson Public Service Award to Philip W. Haseltine of Arlington, Virginia. The Swanson Award recognizes the lifetime of service of Kathy Swanson, former head of the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety and Chairman of GHSA. Swanson was a dedicated public servant who strong commitment to highway safety guided her throughout her career.

Like Swanson, Phil Haseltine was a dedicated public servant throughout his long career. He began in service as head of Michigan’s highway safety office. Later, he served in a number of high-level positions including chief of staff for the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Following that, he was head of the Automobile Coalition for Traffic Safety and National Safety Council’s Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign. Throughout his career, Haseltine did much of the “leg” work that was required to successfully enact safety legislation. He was deeply involved in booster seat and seat belt legislation and was most recently credited for helping Mississippi and Alaska enact primary seat belt laws.

GHSA will present five Peter K. O’Rourke Special Achievement Awards. These Awards are named in honor of past GHSA Chairman and Californian Peter K. O’Rourke. Winners are:

California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joseph A. Farrow, for his development of the Prepare, Understand, Respond, Stop, Utilize and Examine (P.U.R.S.U.E.) video. This 19-minute DVD identifies factors in pursuit decision-making and provides guidance to police officers on why agencies should establish a formal pursuit policy. Approximately 17,000 copies of the P.U.R.S.U.E. video have been distributed to law enforcement agencies nationwide.

Safe Kids Buckle Up, a joint venture between Safe Kids Worldwide and General Motors, for its excellence in becoming the largest child passenger safety program of its kind. In 2007, the program reached a significant milestone: 10 years of inspecting child safety seats for correct installation and educating families about how to be safer in and around vehicles. Throughout the years, Safe Kids has checked more than 900,000 car seats for proper installation.

Pennsylvania Occupant Protection Program, for its success in the state’s seat belt usage rate reaching an all time high of 86.7 percent in 2007—a phenomenal 17 percent gain over its 2000 belt usage rate. This achievement is particularly notable given that Pennsylvania is a secondary seat belt law state. The increase was the result of a well-coordinated and multifaceted occupant protection program.

Utah’s E.A.S.Y.ParentsEmpowered.org program, for its success in reducing underage drinking in Utah through community mobilization. In response to an alarming increase in alcohol use by young adults and more DUI arrests of individuals under 21, the Utah State Legislature passed the Eliminating Alcohol Sales to Youth (EASY) law during the 2006 legislative session. ParentsEmpowered.org is a media and education campaign that provides parents and guardians with information about the harmful effects of alcohol on the developing teen brain along with proven skills for preventing underage alcohol use.

West Virginia’s LifeSavers Program, for its success in providing incentives to law enforcement agencies to improve seat belt use. For the modest cost of $40,000 a year in federal funds, the West Virginia LifeSavers program provides an opportunity to encourage nearly 1,000 officers from more than 125 different agencies to work toward a common goal of saving lives and reducing the number of serious injuries on West Virginia highways. The result has been a dramatic increase in statewide seat belt use—from 49 percent in 2000 to 89 percent in 2007.

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