June 9, 2011
Governor's 2011 Transportation Safety Awards Announced
Lifetime Safety Achievement Award presented to Stephen Oesch, former Senior Vice President at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
RICHMOND — Senate Transportation Committee Chairwoman Yvonne Miller and House Transportation Committee Chairman Joe May presented awards to the winners of the 2011 Governor's Transportation Safety Awards during a ceremony at the Capitol on Wednesday, June 8, 2011. The following individuals and organizations were honored for their outstanding contributions to transportation safety:
Lifetime Safety Achievement - Stephen Oesch has worked to improve highway safety for the past 40 years as an employee with the Center for Auto Safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In 1992 he became Senior Vice President, Government and Insurer Relations for IIHS and worked extensively on highway safety issues with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia State Police. The Virginia General Assembly passed House Joint Resolution 701 this year commending Mr. Oesch for his service to highway safety in Virginia.
Employer Safety - The Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue instituted a daily safety message program where safety messages are broadcast twice a day to all fire and rescue personnel through their cell phones and email. The messages re-enforce the Prince William County safety policies and best practices including the dangers of distracted and impaired driving, and importance of seat belt use.
General Traffic Safety - The Blue Ridge Regional Crash Investigation Team partnered with local high schools to allow students and parents to operate an impaired driving simulator and witness air bag deployments from an air bag sled. Through partnerships with local colleges, the team conducted impaired driving simulator courses and a mock sobriety checkpoint while students wore Fatal Vision goggles, which simulate being under the influence of alcohol. The team also created a website to provide the public with information concerning crashes, and attended two area youth summer camps to promote occupant protection.
Impaired Driving - The Youth of Virginia Speak Out (YOVASO) Club at Green Run High School in Virginia Beach comprises 30 students who have become known as the Traffic Safety Club. Members completed more than 200 traffic safety educational activities in 2010. The club helped organize a two-day event at the high school called "Every 15 Minutes" that was a life-like simulation of the consequences of driving under the influence.
Law Enforcement - In addition to his position as an officer for the Town of Orange Police Department, Officer Troy Wheeler volunteers as a driving instructor for teens at the SMART driving school. He has worked with the local high school's Youth of Virginia Speak Out (YOVASO) to set up a student-based traffic safety program. Officer Wheeler also obtained a privately-donated golf cart that is used as a driving simulator to show students the effects of drinking and driving. According to Chief James Fenwick, "Officer Wheeler's enthusiasm and dedication to these programs has been invaluable."
Legal - Twenty-one years ago the Chandler Law Group started the Safe Ride Home Campaign in Charlottesville and it now extends to Staunton, Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, Winchester and Front Royal. From the middle of December through New Year's Day, the personal injury law firm provides a safe ride home to anyone who has been drinking. Participants call a cab and the law group pays the fare.
Media - WHSV-TV 3, Winchester's ABC affiliate, helped the Front Royal Police Department disseminate safety messages to the motoring public. The TV station filmed a public safety announcement with the department for the Click It or Ticket campaign and it aired 180 times during a three-week period at no cost.
Motor Carrier Safety - The Virginia Trucking Association Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization established in 1997, enhances public and industry participation in an ongoing series of truck safety programs. The foundation has expanded its efforts to educate the motoring public about sharing the road with large commercial vehicles.
Motorcycle Safety - Charles "Chuck" Talley of Richmond, who has been a licensed motorcycle operator since 1954, provides information and instruction to military personnel on purchasing and operating motorcycles. He also assists with the Richmond Public Schools' motorcycle safety program, which is part of the driver education curriculum. Mr. Talley managed the Virginia Ride 2 Recovery program that escorts wounded veterans traveling via motorcycle from Washington, D.C. to Virginia Beach.
Occupant Protection - The Louisa County Transportation Safety Commission created a child safety seat inspection program for Louisa County citizens. The commission and the Louisa Sheriff's Department held several checks throughout the year. They also performed safety seat inspections at 15 local events.
Pedestrian/Bicycle - TrailsforYouth.Org of Springfield created the Safe Routes to School program that included walk- or roll-to-school days, bicycle safety programs, pedestrian safety seminars and a dual language pedestrian safety video geared toward adults. Throughout the program in 2010, more than 1,000 new bicycle helmets were distributed to students that could not afford them.
Pupil Transportation - The New Kent County Sheriff's Office developed a mandatory seatbelt policy at the local high school that other law enforcement agencies across Virginia are using to create their own policies. The office had brochures made with the heading "Stop on Red" with a picture of a bus, or "Stop on Blue" with a picture of two patrol cars and deputies. These brochures were handed out by local businesses. The sheriff's office, along with the New Kent School division, instituted a change in the way school bus lights are activated when buses arrive from the manufacturers that promotes safety.
Rail Safety - William H. Bates of the United Transportation Union in Richmond has worked injury-free for his entire 25-year rail career and has never had an operating rules violation, which according to the president of Amtrak is a "manifestation of his belief that safety is first and foremost." Mr. Bates has been instrumental in helping the Richmond-area train and engine service crews achieve zero reportable injuries in 2008, 2009 and 2010. In 2010, Mr. Bates was appointed by Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood to serve on the U.S. Department of Transportation's Transit Rail Advisory Committee for Safety.
Water Safety - Roy Enslow, a manager at Bridgewater Marina in Moneta, is active in the Smith Mountain Lake community where he instituted boating education safety programs. Since the passage of mandatory boating safety education requirements for Virginia's boaters, Mr. Enslow has worked diligently with other boat rental companies by encouraging and helping them to comply. He assists with setting up meetings between local boating businesses and the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to provide training and rental materials. Also, Mr. Enslow instituted a life jacket trade-in program, and a program that rewards children with LifeSavers when they come to his marina wearing life jackets.
Youth Traffic Safety - AAA Mid-Atlantic and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) sponsored the "JST DRIV" event that combined multiple interactive activities, powerful speakers, law enforcement officials, advocacy groups and researchers in one place. Eighty-five individuals from seven states representing 23 organizations made the event possible, and 600 novice teen drivers were taught safe driving habits during the course of the two-day event.
The Governor's Transportation Safety Awards are awarded each year by the Board of Transportation Safety. The 12-member board advises the Governor, Secretary of Transportation and the Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner on transportation safety matters. It also identifies elements of a comprehensive safety program for all modes of transportation in Virginia, including air, rail, water, motor carrier, public transportation and pupil transportation.
Media Contact: Melanie Stokes
Department of Motor Vehicles