Mason County residents receive traffic safety awards.

May 27, 2021

Sheriff Kim Cole

Mason County residents receive traffic safety awards.

Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole and Hamlin Township resident Dr. Dan Petterson are among six individuals/organizations who were honored by the Michigan Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission this morning, Thursday, May 27, 2021, as recipients of the Richard H. Austin Long-Term Service Award. 

The Richard H. Austin Long-Term Service Award is named for the longest-serving secretary of state in Michigan history (1971-1995). Austin earned a national reputation as an outstanding and effective advocate for traffic safety.

Sheriff Cole was nominated for the Richard H. Austin Long-Term Service Award after supporting traffic safety efforts for 35 years. Cole, an accident reconstructionist who has worked thousands of hours on crashes, was the lead reconstructionist for the county sheriff’s office from 2001 to 2012 and is considered an expert witness in courts of law.

He has partnered with his community on various safety projects, including working with the local educational service district to provide proactive response training for school bus drivers; working with businesses along US-10 to provide traffic signage to help motorists navigate safely; researching the types of crashes on US-10; and securing left-turn signal arrows at major intersections, which helped reduce the number of “head on/left turn” crashes in the county.

Petterson is a former school administrator and is a founder of Skilled Motorcyclist Association – Responsible, Trained and Educated Riders Inc. (SMARTER), a national organization based in Scottville.

Dan Petterson

“Our positions on motorcyclist safety issues are based on the available research as opposed to ‘biker myth’ and unsubstantiated claims,” Petterson said. “Our website is a one stop spot for accessing motorcycle safety research. Whether you are a rider, a motorcycle safety advocate, or a policy decision maker, our position is that it’s important to make your decision based on factual information based on what the research says.”

Petterson often consults law enforcement and attorneys following fatal and serious traffic crashes involving motorcycles. He said half of motorcycle crashes are rider only with no other vehicles involved.

Kids Always ride Safely (KARS) a program that provided child restraint seats, installation, instruction and inspection was also awarded the Austin award. 

Outstanding achievement awards were given to Michigan State Police Gladstone post for its horse-drawn carriage safety program and Kentwood Police Department Traffic Services Bureau for its dedication to school speed zone and school bus violations during the 2019-2020 school year.

Students Madelynn Johnson and Reegan Graham of Traverse City West High School, were given student awards for their leadership and involvement in the Drug Awareness Basketball Game/StudentsTogether Against Negative Decisions (S.T.A.N.D.)

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 commission includes representatives from the departments of State Police, Transportation, Education, State, and

Health & Human Services, as well as the Office of the Governor, the Aging and Adult Services Agency, and the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. There are also three representatives from local government appointed by the governor.

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