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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 31,2009
Media Contact: Melanie Stokes
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6623

Governor's 2009 Transportation Safety Awards Announced

RICHMOND - The Virginia Board of Transportation Safety recently announced the winners of the Governor's Transportation Safety Awards. The following individuals and organizations were honored at the 2009 Judicial Transportation Safety Conference in Virginia Beach for their outstanding contributions to transportation safety:

Lifetime Safety Achievement - Retired Virginia State Police Captain Howard Gregory served in a variety of positions during his 44-year law enforcement career including as a Virginia State Police Trooper and Commander for Division III in Appomattox, and Chief of the Liberty University Police Department in Lynchburg.

Aviation Safety - Michael Mills, Director of Flight Operations and Safety for the Virginia Department of Aviation (DOAV), led the successful effort in obtaining international standard certification for Business Aircraft Operations for the Commonwealth. The DOAV is the first state-operated flight operations department to achieve this certification.

Employer Safety - Appalachian Power Company's Lynchburg Office recently celebrated four years without an on-the-job accident. Under Supervisor Larry Ring, the Lynchburg office implemented a number of safety programs to assist them in achieving this notable safety record.

General Traffic Safety - A surge in traffic fatalities in Albemarle County prompted Albemarle Police Department Chief John Miller to initiate a comprehensive review of traffic crashes including causes, locations and timing. As a result, staffing of the department's traffic unit was increased and the work schedule expanded to provide more coverage. Other department initiatives included highway hazard correction, enhanced commercial vehicle enforcement, and improved communications with the public and media.

Impaired Driving - The large college population in Harrisonburg (James Madison and Eastern Mennonite universities) prompted the Harrisonburg Police Department to form partnerships with many safety advocates. They enhanced communications with the community, targeted efforts to change the behaviors of repeat offenders, and improved awareness of the dangers of impaired driving.

Law Enforcement - Certified Crime Prevention Specialist Vicky Jones of the Buchanan County Sheriff's Office developed the DUI/CSI - "The Decision Is Yours" program. With auto crashes being the number one cause of death for teen-agers, this program is designed to educate using a show-and-tell approach.

Legal - H. Lee Harrell, Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney for Wythe County, works extra hours prosecuting cases that involve violations of traffic and criminal laws, and assists the Wythe County Sheriff's Office with various training needs including teaching at the area criminal justice training academies, and other state and local agencies across Virginia.

Media - WVEC TV 13 Reporter Lindsey Roberts covered stories for child safety seats, DUI checkpoints, Click It or Ticket, and Border to Border in the Hampton Roads area. She is noted for recognizing the importance of traffic safety to the community and uses her position to effectively communicate with viewers.

Motor Carrier Safety - Houff Transfer Inc. of Weyers Cave began its "Safety Starts Here" campaign in 2005 by placing decals along the door handles of all their trucks. This program was expanded to include decals on every door at every facility they operate to ensure Houff drivers understand that safety starts with them.

Motorcycle Safety - William "Doc" Brooks III was part of the team that designed the curriculum for Senate Bill 248, which requires all driver's education courses in Virginia high schools to teach motorcycle awareness. He volunteers in the driver's education program at local high schools in the Richmond area, and as an instructor-trainer so that others may also teach motorcycle safety.

Occupant Protection - Sergeant Chris Rinker of the New Market Police Department was instrumental in organizing the "Route 211 Connection." The program enlisted law enforcement agencies along U.S. Route 211 from Timberville to Warrenton to participate in a concentrated enforcement effort during the Click It or Ticket campaign. He continued his efforts by forming a taskforce charged with impacting drivers in Shenandoah County.

Pedestrian/Bicycle - The Town of Blacksburg formed a program titled, "The Yield, it's Worth the Wait" resulting from a partnership between the town, Virginia Tech and Tech's Transportation Institute. The program's goal is to help improve communication between motorists and pedestrians, to foster improved safety helmet use by bicyclists, and to present a safety video to students.

Pupil Transportation - The Christiansburg Police Department developed the Video Bus Program to reduce the number of motorists in Montgomery County who violate the law by passing a stopped school bus. The department donated a video unit to catch violators, and worked with the school transportation office to secure a bus equipped with the video camera that could be used on a variety of routes.

Water Safety - Upon retirement from the state after 41 years, Robert N. Swinson is a part-time instructional assistant for the Boating Safety Education program that provides materials, maintains student and instructor records, and supports most of the boating safety courses offered throughout the Commonwealth. The program's 500-plus volunteer instructors rely on Swinson for the latest updates, materials and information.

Youth Traffic Safety - Robin Thompson developed an educational awareness program for teen drivers and their parents called, "The ART of Driving." Thompson's program is in memory of her daughter, Ashley Renee, and strives to change the "invincible" mindset of teens.

The Transportation Safety Awards are presented 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.

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