“Big John” Smith received national public service award from NHTSA Monday in Nashville

(Nashville, TN) – The transportation director of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes traveled to Nashville this week to receive a national safety advocacy award from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA).

“Big John” Smith was one of 12 individuals and organizations to receive the NHTSA Public Service Award, the agency’s top public service award that recognizes the tireless efforts people make to advance highway safety throughout the country.

As transportation director for the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes on the Wind River Reservation, Smith was recognized “for your leadership in the area of tribal transportation safety, through policy initiatives, promoting awareness, and coordination with state and federal partners, and for bringing greater awareness to the transportation safety needs of Indian Country.”

Big John Smith talked with NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman at Monday's ceremony. (WYDOT)

Big John talked with Acting Administrator David Friedman. (WYDOT)

Smith received his public service award Monday at the 32nd Annual Lifesavers Conference in Nashville. The Lifesavers conference is the nation’s largest gathering of highway safety professionals. NHTSA annually recognizes safety leaders and their exemplary efforts in the area of traffic fatality and injury reduction.

“We celebrate the individuals and organizations honored today and their relentless commitment to saving lives and reducing injuries on roads in states, cities and towns all across our country,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman on Monday, who presented Smith with his award. “We appreciate their dedication and hard work in helping to improve traffic safety.”

The purpose of the NHTSA’s public service award it to recognize and honor an individual or organization who exemplifies high standards of achievements in the field of traffic safety, and through his or the group’s accomplishments, has contributed to the quality of life in the community, state or nation.

Smith’s work on the Wind River Reservation has included:

•   Behavioral Transportation Safety Outreach. Smith has played a pivotal role in the development and implementation of culturally appropriate traffic safety messaging on the Wind River Reservation that addressed seat belt use, impaired driving, and pedestrian safety.

•  Tribal Liaisons. Smith has served as a key point of contact between the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes and the Wyoming Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Federal Highway Administration. Through Smith’s efforts, key highway infrastructure improvements on the Wind River Reservation has been achieved, coordination between behavioral programs and engineering initiatives has been improved, and greater awareness of the transportation safety needs of the Wind River community has been achieved.

•  Traffic safety plan for the Wind River Reservation. The new traffic code is part of this, with lower BAC limits for drunk driving, lower speed limits, a reservation-wide mandatory seat belt law, improved traffic signage, increased law enforcement, and more emphasis on education and prevention.

•  Coordination of  two reservation safety conferences. These conferences brought together dozens of city, county, state, federal reservation programs to work together to improve traffic safety on and off the reservation, through shared information about programs, drug courts, DUI courts, mandatory testing programs, etc.

“Big John Smith promotes doing things the right way,” said WYDOT District Engineer Shelby G. Carlson of Basin. “Smith has traveled the country speaking to other Native American tribes and sharing best practices for improving traffic safety and saving human lives. Brown is the on-the-ground worker who gets thing done on a daily basis for the Wind River tribes.”

Carlson said the best example of positive change on Wind River is what has happened on the reservation’s busiest highway when the periods of 2004-2007 and 2009-2012 are compared.

“Lives are being saved and people are making better choices. The Joint Tribal Council’s efforts, spearheaded by “Big John” Smith and Howard Brown and their office, have made the difference,” said Carlson. “Fewer people are drinking and driving, more people are buckling their seat belts, and fewer people are dying on reservation roads. It’s been a combination of improved highway engineering/construction, strong advocacy by reservation people for safer behavior on the reservation roads, and increased law enforcement.”

 

Wyoming 137 (17-Mile Road East Section) Fremont County Crash Comparison History

May 30, 2004 – May 30, 2007 (prior to construction, alcohol messaging, increased enforcement):

Fatal                                        Injury                                      PDO                 Total

Crashes           Fatalities         Crashes           Injuries            Crashes           Crashes

4                      4                      25                    63                    36                    65

 

Wyoming 137 (17-Mile Road East Section) Fremont County Crash Comparison History

June 15, 2009 to June 15, 2012 (after construction, in-progress alcohol messaging, in-progress increased enforcement):

Fatal                                        Injury                                      PDO                 Total

Crashes           Fatalities         Crashes           Injuries            Crashes           Crashes

1                      1                      7                      10                    10                    18

Percent change (between first and second periods):

Fatal                                        Injury                                      PDO                 Total

Crashes           Fatalities         Crashes           Injuries            Crashes           Crashes

-75%                -75%                -72%                -84%                -72%                -72%

 

And secondly, fatal crashes and fatalities in Fremont County (includes Wind River) … the proof is in the pudding, so to speak …

Fremont County Fatal Crashes/Fatalities:

2011                                        2012                                        2013

Crashes/Fatalities                  Crashes/Fatalities                  Crashes/Fatalities

11/13                                      9/9                                          3/4

–Wyoming Department of Transportation

3 Comments

  1. Liz Shield

    That's awesome! Congrats to Big John!

  2. Gary Collins

    Hey Big. Way to go. Proud of what you do .,,,,,

  3. Mindy Masters Doebele

    Congratulations Big John! I remember watching you play basketball at CWC. My dad was the coach. My mother and I want to congratulate you! Mindy and Brenda Masters

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