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Oct. 19, 2020

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Fourteen traffic safety leaders receive 2020 Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths Awards

Winners will be recognized during online TZD conference, Oct. 20-Nov. 20

ST PAUL, Minn. – Thirteen people and one company will be officially recognized with Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths Awards during the 2020 TZD state conference, held virtually Oct. 20 through Nov. 20. The TZD Awards are presented annually to recognize significant achievements that help save lives and reduce life-changing injuries on Minnesota roads. TZD is the state’s cornerstone traffic safety initiative led by the departments of Health, Public Safety, and Transportation, in cooperation with other federal, state and local partners.

This year’s awards will be presented online, on different days, during individual sessions of the annual statewide TZD conference. About 1,000 traffic safety professionals typically attend the annual conference in person. With this year’s conference moved online, every session is open to the public.

TZD Award winners represent all ages engaged in traffic safety

The list of 2020 TZD award winners includes high school students, volunteers, full-time and part-time professionals as well as a retiree with a 45-year career dedicated to saving lives through innovative traffic engineering. The 2020 winners are:

  • Kathy Swanson Outstanding Service Award – Howard Preston of Lake Elmo, a retired transportation engineer. Preston is recognized for his exceptional leadership to improving traffic safety in Minnesota. He has made many contributions to develop and promote new ways to reduce fatal and serious injury crashes across local roads, the state of Minnesota and the country, over his distinguished 45-year career.
  • Distinguished Public Leadership Award – Kristine Hernandez, Minnesota TZD Program Coordinator. Hernandez is recognized for her development and leadership of the Minnesota TZD Regions program, and growing it into a statewide model, which is now recognized as a best practice nationwide.
  • Traffic Safety Innovation Award – American Student Transportation of Blaine. The school busing company is recognized for developing an improved school bus warning light system that helps prevent school bus stop arm violations that endanger students and motorists.
  • Emerging Leader Award – Sam Fronek, Lesh Gujra, Abhi Nallamalli, Suvarna Nallamalli and Amy Wang, current and former students of Eden Prairie High School. The five are recognized for their achievements as part of the Eden Prairie High School Distraction-Free Life Club Youth Outreach Team. Their combined efforts helped found the club, advance it within the school, and expand the club to other schools. The club engages teens and mentors elementary school children about distraction-free driving, and helped create a summer internship program for high school and college students that attracted more than 65 applicants from across the country.

TZD Star Awards

TZD Star Awards recognize individuals and organizations in Minnesota that show excellence in TZD’s emphasis areas of enforcement, emergency medical and trauma services, education, engineering, child passenger safety and judicial/court systems. They have shown their leadership and creative capacities in efforts to improve traffic safety throughout the state and build partnerships.

  • Child Passenger Safety Star Award – Tracy Brown of Red Wing. Brown is honored for 20 years of leading child passenger safety efforts, including training at car seat clinics and other events, mentoring CPS technicians, advocacy and general education.
  • Education Star Award – Stephanie Felt of Spicer. Felt is recognized for increasing traffic safety awareness through creative education campaigns for more than 16 years and for developing and growing a successful Joyride program in Kandiyohi County. Kandiyohi Joyride has provided more than 1,600 rides since 2014. Felt also has helped other communities implement their own sober ride programs.
  • Enforcement Star Award – Chief Joshua Hanson, Kasson Police Dept. Hanson is honored for 14 years of energizing work and contributions to Dodge County’s Toward Zero Deaths efforts, including crosswalk safety education, media outreach, multi-agency collaborations, and seat belt and distracted driving enforcement campaigns.
  • Engineering Star Award – Loren Hill, MnDOT traffic engineer. Hill is honored for his leadership and development of the improved online crash data analysis and mapping system tool, MnCMAT2, that helps engineers and law enforcement identify, locate and evaluate crash data and ensure future road improvements are as effective as possible.
  • Emergency Medical and Trauma Services Star Award – Joan Somes, Apple Valley, co-chair of the Dakota County TZD Coalition. Somes is recognized for helping expand senior driving awareness and education through a web-based training program.
  • Judicial/Courts Star Award – Monica Jensen of Burnsville. Jensen is recognized for her many contributions as a driving force behind the Dakota County TZD coalition and the educational outreach materials and activities they produce.

The Minnesota TZD program is an interdisciplinary partnership led by the state departments of health, transportation and public safety. A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes – education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma response.

Learn more about TZD at minnesotatzd.org.