Mark V. Rosenker, Acting Chairman
National Transportation Safety Board
Kentucky Senate President David Williams Award Presentation
Southern Legislative Conference
August 1, 2006
Thank you. And, thank you for providing the Safety Board with the time in your schedule for an important event. It is a pleasure to be here in Louisville with you today.
I’m here today to publicly recognize one of your leaders for making a truly extraordinary effort in this year’s legislative session.
Senator David Williams’ leadership made possible the enactment of two measures that clearly will reduce the death toll on Kentucky’s streets and highways. The laws were enacted largely as a result of his efforts.
Enactment of primary safety belt enforcement is the single most important measure that you can take to save lives in highway crashes. Senator Williams found a way to resurrect the primary enforcement bill in Kentucky when it appeared to have been killed on the House floor. He recognized the critical importance of raising Kentucky’s seat belt use rate, which is one of the nation’s lowest, and he took action.
His leadership also paved the way for passage of a strong graduated driver licensing law that moved Kentucky from among the weakest to among the strongest systems for licensing new young drivers. Highway crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers. But, a series of recent research reports are showing how effective graduated licensing is proving to be in reducing these tragedies. Even before the 2006 session began, Senator Williams was instrumental in developing a consensus of support for proposals. His efforts enabled the bill to move through the legislative process, after it had been stalled for several years.
These two laws are among the Safety Board’s “Most Wanted” recommendations to the States because of their life saving potential. Senator Williams’ efforts contributed to highway safety becoming one of the political priorities in the 2006 session of Kentucky’s General Assembly. Many hundreds of people are killed on the highways of your states. Lowering this toll needs to be a priority in your legislature next year.
Look at your laws, talk to experts, and determine what will make a difference. And, start now to build a consensus that this must be a political priority in 2007. We are excited about the opportunity to work with you to get these laws enacted in your state. This is so important that I urge you to call me personally if we can help.
Senator Williams’ efforts this year should serve as a model for legislators in all states. And so, the National Transportation Safety Board is pleased to present Kentucky Senate President David Williams with its State Safety Leadership Award.
Thank you, and I look forward to working with all of you in next year’s session - and hopefully to recognizing your safety leadership in your State.