News Release for June 9, 2010

For more Information:
Paul Merrill, Public Information Officer - 207-624-3355 or 207-215-9297
Duane Brunell (207) 624-3278


Transportation Safety Promoters Acknowledged at Annual Conference

Five individuals and organizations returned home “Transportation Safety Champions” this past Thursday, June 4. The Maine Transportation Safety Coalition (MTCS), a group that advocates for transportation safety in Maine, presented these awards at its annual meeting in Portland.

The York Police Department was recognized as a Transportation Safety Champion for its diversity of traffic safety programs such as the Ice Cream Reward programs, bike rodeos, and Project Graduation. York PD has successfully competed in law enforcement challenges on the state and national level, recently taking the 1st place prize in its division in the International Chiefs of Police Association Law Enforcement Challenge.

Caitlyn Blodgett, a Maine Department of Labor orientation and mobility specialist, was named a Safety Champion for encouraging safe sidewalks and intersections for blind and visually impaired pedestrians. She talks with different towns to develop more pedestrian-friendly intersections; in particular, she worked with the city of Portland to improve roundabouts, and to meet the needs of blind and visually impaired pedestrians. Blodgett also created a documentary to show the difficulties visually impaired pedestrians face each day.

Six Chicks and a Dude, a group of seven motivated students from Jay Middle School, contacted Maine Transportation Safety Coalition members and others for project help. Eight months later, Six Chicks and a Dude won the 1st Place Sharing Award at the World Festival LEGO League Competition in Atlanta. The LEGO competition involved constructing and training a robot using LEGO bricks, and creating a presentation about this year’s theme: transportation concerns. The students also demonstrated their knowledge about distracted driving by contacting Governor John Baldacci, numerous Maine representatives, high schools, school committee members, and others, in addition to creating a public awareness campaign. “Students have a unique opportunity to grasp the attention of the public,” said Duane Brunell, chair of the Maine Transportation Safety Coalition. “Six Chicks and a Dude took this opportunity to highlight a vital issue in Maine today.”

Susan Kimball, a former reporter for WCSH6, also became a Transportation Safety Champion for her news stories highlighting the dangers of distracted driving. After she and co-worker Aaron Twombly, who was also acknowledged by MTSC, were hit by a distracted driver in 2008 while in a WCSH6 van, Kimball created a series of news stories demonstrating the potential consequences of distracted driving that led WCSH6 and AAA to offer a free educational DVD on this series. “Both Susan Kimball and Aaron Twombly transformed a negative experience into a way to inform the public about the problems with distracted driving,” noted Brunell.

A variety of safety advocates and professionals in Maine formed the MTSC in 1997 to improve the safety of Maine roadways and byways, and to create a transportation safety resource for the public. For more information, visit the MTSC website at