Kent County Sheriff’s Deputy Timothy Erhardt was be honored at the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission (GTSAC) annual awards luncheon Wednesday at the Kellogg Conference Center in East Lansing for initiating a distracted driving awareness program.
Each year the commission honors organizations, programs and individuals for outstanding contributions to traffic safety. The awards luncheon is part of the 16th Annual Michigan Traffic Safety Summit. Six 2010 traffic safety and three long-term awards were presented.
In 2008, Erhardt initiated a distracted driving awareness program for Kent County high school students. The program begins with an education segment and then challenges students to create their own distracted driving awareness campaigns.
These projects are judged by fellow students and winning projects are publicized through the local media. Winning projects have included a television public service announcement (PSA) that was aired on WOOD TV-8 for a month, a poster that was made into a billboard and posted along US-131, and a radio PSA that was played on local radio stations.
The program has grown to 11 schools involving more than 12,000 students. Local businesses and media outlets fund the program.
The GTSAC was formed in 2002 to serve as the state’s forum for identifying key traffic safety challenges and developing and implementing plans to address those issues. The GTSAC is comprised of representatives from the departments of: Community Health, Education, State, State Police and Transportation, as well as Office of Services to the Aging, Office of Highway Safety Planning and the Office of the Governor. There are also three representatives from local government appointed by the Governor.