Traffic Safety Champions Awards Announced

Richmond, Va., August 14, 2014 – This year, in conjunction with the Virginia Distracted Driving Summit, we’re holding an awards dinner to celebrate our 2014 Traffic Safety Champion Award Winners. This dinner will be held on the evening of September 15th, from 6:00 to 8:00 at the Richmond Westin. Please join us as we honor the achievements of 5 amazing individuals who have made a significant difference to the safety of our roadways.

The honorees for this year's DRIVE SMART Virginia Traffic Safety Champions Awards are:

The Morrell Family, Victim Advocates
In 2011, Darren Morrell lost his life to an 85 year old driver in Fairfax County. His father and brother, Dave and Bryan Morrell, decided to do something to make sure that other families wouldn't suffer the same loss. They formed a study group with the Department of Motor Vehicles, law enforcement agencies, automotive and insurance associations, AARP, and university experts on aging. The research as a result of this study group found that the rate of fatal crashes increases noticeably at ages 70 to 74, with drivers 85 and older having the highest crash rate. This research helped to form new legislation regarding mature driver licensing in Virginia. The legislation passed this year and requires drivers to renew their licenses in person and take a vision test beginning at age 75, instead of age 80. It also reduces the term of in-person license renewal for senior drivers 75 and older from the current 8 years to every 5 years. Dave and Bryan Morrell are a great example of how a family can turn a tragedy into an opportunity to make a difference.

Jennifer Smith, StopDistractions.org
Jennifer Smith has been an advocate against distracted driving since her mother was killed by a person talking on his cell phone while driving in 2008. Jennifer now travels worldwide to give presentations to schools, the public, organizations, and corporations on the issue and helps families who have lost loved ones find a way to turn their tragedies into action by sharing their stories to save others from the same needless crashes. Jennifer has formed an organization StopDistractions.org and has been recognized by the Department of Transportation as a Woman in Transportation History for her work over the years. You may have seen Jennifer on one of her numerous media appearances including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Fox News, CNN, The Today Show, Katie Couric, Larry King Live, 20/20, and Rock Center among other major network shows. Her dedication to fighting distracted driving is astounding and far-reaching.

Lloyd "Bud" Vye, Virginia Bicycling Federation
Over the past several decades, Bud Vye has made tremendous progress in advocacy for bicyclist safety on Virginia's roadways. He was involved in getting bike racks on GRTC buses, legislation for cyclists riding two abreast provided they fall into single file when being approached by a faster moving vehicle from the rear, working on the feasibility of the Virginia Capital Trail and most recently, legislation that makes it illegal for a motorist to pass a bicyclist within 3 feet. His commitment to road safety has made a significant difference to Virginia road users of all types.

Vanessa Wigand, Virginia Department of Education
Vanessa plays a vital role in shaping the young drivers of Virginia. As the Principal Specialist for Health, PE, DE, and Athletics, she works tirelessly to insure that the 100,000 driver's education students going through Virginia's public high schools each year have the best education and resources available. Her efforts include finding innovative curriculum for the classroom, interactive learning opportunities for students, and providing a wealth of knowledge to her driver's education teachers. DRIVE SMART Virginia is happy to call her a partner is our teen driver efforts and we look to Vanessa for guidance when developing new teen driver programs. She is dedicated and committed to educate and train young drivers and save lives on our roadways.

The cost to attend is $40 per person and $300 for a table of 8. Please contact kristin.smolenski@drivesmartva.org to register for the awards dinner. We hope to see you on the 15th!

Since 2006, DRIVE SMART Virginia has worked to educate businesses, municipalities, state agencies and students about the dangers of texting and driving.