June 8, 2012
2012 Governor's Transportation Safety Awards Announced
Thomas M. Slaughter honored with Lifetime Safety Achievement Award
RICHMOND - House Transportation Committee Chairman Joe May presented awards to the winners of the 2012 Virginia Governor's Transportation Safety Awards during a ceremony at the Capitol on Wednesday, June 6. The following individuals and organizations were honored for their outstanding contributions to transportation safety:
Lifetime Safety Achievement - Thomas M. Slaughter, a retired professional engineer from Newport News, has spent 40 years as a transportation safety advocate. He began his career in 1971 working with the City of Newport News assisting the Assistant Traffic Engineer, and he retired in 2000 as an Assistant Director of Engineering. He was re-hired by the City of Newport News and works part-time on transportation projects and transportation planning. Mr. Slaughter also serves on the York County Transportation Safety Commission. In addition, he routinely speaks to school age children and other groups about traffic safety, and partners with law enforcement for traffic safety efforts.
Employer Safety - Motor carrier company Houff Transfer, Inc., located in Weyers Cave, provides training for drivers throughout their careers including a defensive driving course for drivers who have been in a crash. Also, Houff has sensor tracs on its trucks that relay information back to the safety managers about vehicles that exceed pre-set parameters, and all Houff trucks are equipped with electronic control modules that limit a truck's speed to 65 mph. In addition, Houff Transfer won the 2011 Virginia Trucking Association Safety Award, and the 2011 Truckload Carrier National Safety Award.
General Traffic Safety - Brian Kitts, the Eastern Montgomery High School Assistant Principal in Elliston, chose to turn his personal tragedy into action after his mother was killed by a teen drunk driver in 1995. Through his presentations, he has touched the lives of more than 10,000 individuals and raises funds for the Bonnie Kitts Memorial Fund, which was established in honor of his mother. All of the proceeds are used for scholarships, and alcohol and drug prevention programs.
Impaired Driving - VCU Medical Center's Injury and Violence Prevention Program called Get Real - Alcohol/Drug Choices and Consequences for Youth (GR-ACY) provides an alternative program for juveniles who are convicted of an alcohol or drug-related charge. It is also a health education program for those in Adult Drug Court. The program's mission is to assist the community in addressing injuries resulting from substance impairment by educating participants on the effects of alcohol and drugs.
Law Enforcement - The Louisa County Sheriff's Office is involved in a variety of transportation safety projects including a school program called Operation SAFE PASSAGE, a joint partnership between the Patrol Division, Department of Fire and Emergency Services and Transportation Safety Commission to reduce underage drinking during the high risk period from prom through graduation. The office also operates the Schools Open Campaign, an annual education and enforcement initiative to enhance safety during the opening days of each new school year.
Legal - Through the General Assembly session and other avenues, J. Christopher LaGow from Virginia Beach has helped strengthen existing transportation safety laws and create new ones. "With Mr. LaGow's historical knowledge of past traffic safety initiatives, he is able to effectively use that information to pull together the insurance industry, traffic safety advocates and law enforcement for collaborative work," said Janet Brooking, Executive Director of DRIVE SMART Virginia, who nominated Mr. LaGow.
Media - Roanoke Times Transportation Reporter Jeff Sturgeon covers transportation issues that reach an audience of more than 250,000 people in southwest Virginia. His primary focus in the past year has been on the large reconstruction of Interstate 81 through a mountainous and high-traffic area between Roanoke and Blacksburg. Building off of a 2010 series that Mr. Sturgeon wrote called "Interstate 81: Fears, Facts and the Future," Roanoke Times Editor Carole Tarrant believes his work contributed to the current public awareness about the interstate's many safety challenges.
Motor Carrier Safety - DRIVE SMART Virginia created the "Share the Road with Large Trucks Virginia" portion of the driver's education curriculum for every public, private and commercial school program in Virginia. It teaches new drivers how to manage time and space near large vehicles, and to understand their characteristics and limitations.
Motorcycle Safety - The first program of its kind in the nation, the Richmond Ambulance Authority's RIDER ALERT offers free, water-proof identification data cards for motorcycle riders to help first responders provide rapid and accurate medical assistance to riders involved in crashes. The card is placed inside the motorcyclist's helmet and has rider medical information, next of kin and contact details in case a rider cannot communicate with first responders. A one-inch round sticker on the outside of the helmet indicates that the biker has the RIDER ALERT card, and the sticker warns bystanders not to remove the helmet.
Occupant Protection - Christiansburg Police Department created the Take the Christiansburg Seatbelt Challenge. After reaching out to the community and local media, stories were published in the weekly and daily newspapers, and on the local CBS television affiliate. The department reports a pre-challenge seatbelt use rate of 85 percent and a post-seatbelt use rate of 93 percent.
Pedestrian/Bicycle - During five days in June 2011 when 2,000 bicyclists toured the New River Valley, Bike Virginia offered daily safety training classes on subjects such as bike helmet safety, braking and bike safety checks. Bike Virginia also offered mini-grants to localities participating in the New River Valley tour to install biking and walking equipment and provide educational programs.
Public Transportation - Forsythe Transportation, which runs the fixed route transit service for Arlington Transit, developed comprehensive driver education programs for sharing the road with bicyclists and pedestrians that helped achieve an outstanding bicycle and pedestrian safety record for the transit agency. The programs are also used to educate a variety of amateur and professional drivers on how to anticipate a bicyclist's or pedestrian's actions to avoid crashes.
Pupil Transportation - The Summer Bus Camp operated by Newport News Public Schools provides training for new school bus drivers during summer school. The participants drive the routes and pick up students, learn to read bus schedules, learn the streets of the city, and perfect their skills at making bus stops. As part of the program, high school age volunteers assist with teaching younger summer school students how to ride the school bus safely while earning credit toward their community service requirement for graduation.
Aviation Safety - Roger Oberndorf is chairman of the Virginia Aviation Security Advisory Committee (VASAC), which was created in 2005 in response to 9/11. One of VASAC's first priorities was to respond to a series of issues from the Governor's Secure Commonwealth Panel, and all of the items are now complete. Mr. Oberndorf currently oversees a team of security professionals that strives to provide a practical, safe and secure response to aviation security for the Commonwealth.
Rail Safety - Raiford Wilson, a locomotive engineer for Norfolk Southern Railway Corporation in Crewe for 36 years, has served as a certified presenter-trainer for Operation Lifesaver since 2002. He gives free rail safety presentations to groups and last year presented to students and adults during 60 different events including a community safety blitz and model railroad exhibits.
Water Safety - Captain Russ Cress is a fishing guide and a volunteer boating safety instructor for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in Richmond. He has conducted 26 classes, taught 375 students and contributed 212 hours to the Virginia Boating Safety Education program so far. DGIF calls upon Captain Cress to assist in teaching the more "seasoned" boaters. As a fishing guide, he requires his clients to listen to a pre-boarding safety briefing before embarking for a day on the water, and he requires his clients to wear life jackets while on his vessel.
Youth Traffic Safety - The Distractions N' Driving Team at George Mason University in Fairfax demonstrated the adverse consequences of distracted driving using an interactive driving simulator at local high schools throughout 2011. The driving game simulator allowed the team to teach the dangers of distracted diving to large audiences in school auditoriums and cafeterias. A few volunteers from the audience engaged in the simulator while it was being projected on a large screen, which engaged hundreds of teens at once.
The Governor's Transportation Safety Awards are awarded each year by the Board of Transportation Safety to recognize the outstanding efforts made by individuals and organizations to change the behaviors of Virginia's motorists leading to crash, injury and fatality reduction. Entries were judged on creativity, imagination, uniqueness, the impact on the community, and the use of volunteers and private sector resources. Nominations are accepted by DMV every February. For more information, visitwww.dmvNOW.com.