No. 1 on the active list

July 19, 2002

Dear Roads & Bridges Readers,

I would like to give thanks to Roads & Bridges magazine for once again allowing me an opportunity to share what the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) has been actively involved with recently. It’s partnerships like this one that help accomplish our common goal—to help make our nation’s roadways safer for all motorists by reducing the number of injuries and fatalities on roadways and in work zones.  

Dear Roads & Bridges Readers,

I would like to give thanks to Roads & Bridges magazine for once again allowing me an opportunity to share what the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA) has been actively involved with recently. It’s partnerships like this one that help accomplish our common goal—to help make our nation’s roadways safer for all motorists by reducing the number of injuries and fatalities on roadways and in work zones.  

During our 32nd Annual Convention and Traffic Expo in Dallas this past February, Kathi Holst, president of NES Traffic Safety/ACCi in Romeoville, Ill., accepted the ATSSA president’s gavel from outgoing President Dennis “Chip” Sterndahl. Chip proudly led the association for the two previous years while ATSSA continued to lead the advance of our industry on Capitol Hill, in the national news media and in local communities across the country.

Chip’s roots in the association began at the chapter level prior to his attaining the highest position within the association. As the president of the California chapter, Chip generated significant media coverage by aggressively pursuing retroreflectivity, striping and signage issues through press conferences on the Capitol steps in Sacramento and by meeting regularly with state-elected officials. These efforts are unquestionably leading to safer roads in California.

Also as ATSSA’s president Chip focused on government relations activities, training, membership initiatives, chapter member involvement and countless other activities and accomplishments.

Kathi came through the chapter ranks as well. As she stated in remarks earlier this year, her goal is to strengthen and expand ATSSA’s focus as the industry’s leader in roadway safety issues to significantly reduce crashes, injuries and save lives on our nation’s roadways. Again, this cannot be done without effective partnerships with other organizations and agencies.

For example, in May Kathi led a discussion and workshop on work-zone safety in Chicago during the Construction Safety Council and Center to Protect Worker’s Rights conference. The focal points of her opening remarks were better data collection in work zones when accidents occur, the presence of law enforcement in work zones and other proposals covered in ATSSA’s Roadway Safety Program (RSP).

As Chip and Kathi did, I urge ATSSA members to become involved in ATSSA activities by becoming active members within their respective chapters, or through involvement with one of our many committees. Member involvement is the key to our success as a unified industry. For example, right now all ATSSA technical committees are reviewing the Federal Highway Administration’s proposed amendments to the MUTCD.

I encourage you to visit a committee meeting of your choice at ATSSA’s Midyear Meeting in Washington, D.C. If you like what you see, inquire about becoming a member. The Midyear Meeting will be conducted at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Sept. 18-21. The hotel is located on Capitol Hill.

Another event that involves many of our members is the Annual Convention and Traffic Expo. In Dallas this past February, over 2,800 visitors came to the show floor to network with friends and peers as over 200 ATSSA members exhibited their lifesaving products in 500 booths. The New Products Press Conference also allowed over 25 companies to demonstrate their new products to the media in attendance. Roads & Bridges, in particular, covered the event and published the products—and pictures—in a recent edition. ATSSA will continue to conduct this press conference every year, and members who have developed new products or services during calendar year 2002 should plan on participating in the press conference in New Orleans in February.

Mineta is with the program

Closer to home on Capitol Hill, Holst, ATSSA President-Elect Tom McSwain and several others took ATSSA’s roadway safety message to the Bush administration as we met with U.S. DOT Secretary Norm Mineta to discuss in great detail ATSSA’s proposed RSP. The proposal calls for $3 billion a year in roadway safety funding and emphasizes other key areas to focus on during the reauthorization process of TEA-21. Secretary Mineta reinforced his commitment to making safety and security the top priorities for all modes of transportation.

The ATSSA RSP also proposes that specific funding be targeted to improving the areas of the roadway where the most people are killed or injured. This includes two-lane rural roads and the country’s most dangerous intersections. Special focus also is given to making the roadways safer for older drivers and for workers in work zones. We need to prepare now for the year 2020, when one in every five drivers will be over the age of 65. Holst testified on the RSP at a special safety symposium held by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on June 14.

The $3 billion annual funding for the RSP would come from the transfer of the current 2.5 cents per gallon ethanol tax from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund, reinstatement of interest payments to the Trust Fund and indexing of the federal motor fuel user fee. Monies collected above the $3 billion level would be used for other roadway and bridge improvements and for transit.

As this letter goes to press, nine organizations have announced their support for ATSSA’s RSP. They are the American Glass Bead Manufacturers Association, the National Association of County Engineers, the International Mu-nicipal Signal Association, the Associated General Contractors of Vermont, the American Subcontractors Association, the Fairfax, Va., County Chamber of Commerce, the Citizens for Roadside Safety, the Hazelhurst (Miss.) School District and Pathways of Virginia Inc. If you’d like to view or download the 25-page RSP, it’s available at the “Important Announcements” link of our website (

Community access

Two superb ATSSA community relations programs are on line and at work across the country.

The first is the American Traffic Safety Services Foundation “Roadway Worker Memorial Scholarship” program. This program was designed to assist families of those killed in our nation’s work zones. The program provides scholarships of $2,000 directly to the school of the family’s choice. 

During National Work Zone Awareness Week activities in Maryland this past April, Congressman James L. Oberstar (D.-Minn.) announced the first recipients of these scholarships. They were Angela M. Finch and Trevor Davies—both of their fathers senselessly killed in work-zone accidents. Both Angela and Trevor were in attendance. 

You can help make a difference in a young person’s life by contributing to this fund or by nominating a young student whose life was affected by a tragic loss in a work zone. All the forms needed to do this are available at the “ATSS Foundation” link of From there, simply click on “Scholarship Programs.”

The second ATSSA community relations program well under way is the National Work Zone Memorial, which also is administered by the foundation. Seven hundred forty-four names currently appear on the memorial—men, women and children—each killed in a work zone. The memorial was dedicated and unveiled by Congressman Oberstar in April, then traveled to New York, then Washington state and now to a dozen other locations across the country to bring the message of work-zone safety to America’s motor- ists year-round.

Some of the names on the memorial go as far back as the 1940s. However, most of the names are recent fatalities from a wide variety of states and local jurisdictions across the country. The gathering of names continues. I urge you to submit names as soon as possible. In January 2003, the memorial will return to the East Coast where names gathered this year will be added.

If you are interested in hosting the 28-ft-long memorial, or if you’d like to submit a name or become a sponsor, please contact Lisa Kenney at 540/368-1701, ext. 110.

Leaders are made

This past April 16, ATSSA members spent 12 intense hours of interactive discussion on leadership challenges, vision, values, creativity and role modeling during ATSSA’s second annual Leadership Program. The group also identified skills and characteristics of leaders, the future vision of ATSSA and how that vision can be conveyed to their colleagues at the chapter and committee level.

The next session is scheduled for March 25-27, 2003, and you are invited. Scholarships are available for those who require assistance with travel and lodging. The point of contact for this event is Elaine Ottley. Elaine can be reached at 540/368-1701, ext. 118.

The Leadership Program was held in conjunction with ATSSA’s Annual Washington Visit. Participants in this program receive valuable government relations training then meet with their elected officials. 

ATSSA member Robert “Bubba” Lee, for example, met with Congressman Sonny Callahan’s staff (R.-Ala.), while both Steve Spear and Peter Speer met with Congressman Jay Inslee (D.-Wash.). More than 100 similar visits were conducted on Capitol Hill in April, bringing ATSSA’s roadway safety initiatives to elected officials, as well as what ATSSA members are doing to help save lives through their lifesaving products and services. 

Another visit to Capitol Hill is planned during the ATSSA Midyear Meeting, Sept. 18-21. We need your participation as an industry member to advance our industry’s message. For information, call Rob Dingess or Elaine Ottley at 800/272-8772.

Doing business on Capitol Hill has become a No. 1 priority for ATSSA. Because of this, ATSSA has opened a Capitol Hill office, located on Pennsylvania Avenue, within a five-minute walk from both the House and Senate Office Buildings. To contact ATSSA’s director of government relations, Rob Dingess, directly at that office call 202/454-5246.

Training days

Finally, I cannot say enough about ATSSA training. Imagine someone practicing a career without training—doctors, pilots, firefighters, equipment operators. This is precisely the case for far too many roadway workers, and as a result they are at serious risk for accidents and injuries.

ATSSA continues to lead the roadway safety industry with the highest quality training provided by the most experienced instructors in the industry. Our curriculum is constantly updated and evolving to suit your particular needs.

Our new Guardrail Installation Training Course, for example, is a popular success while both the Traffic Control Technician and Supervisor Courses remain the courses of choice for men and women who make a living in our nation’s work zones.

There are many more ATSSA courses available right now to allow your workers to be trained and, more importantly, to be safe. The latest national fatality figures in work zones—1,093—strongly suggests there is a problem, and ATSSA has a key part of the solution. In addition to our regular courses, we also maintain the National Flagger Database, offer training in Spanish, have exciting certification programs and offer online information, course descriptions and registration. Please contact ATSSA’s director of training, Donna Clark, at 877/642-4637 to learn more.  

The ATSSA staff and our members are excited about what lies ahead for us in the years to follow. Following the Midyear Meeting, we begin preparations for Traffic Expo and other key industry events that follow, and we’ll keep you posted as these issues progress. We hope you’ll join us in all we’re doing. If you have an idea on how we can do new things—or do old things better—please don’t hesitate to e-mail me at RogerW@ Your comments, concerns and suggestions are important and we’re not afraid to take a chance on a good suggestion.


Roger A. Wentz

Executive Director, ATSSA

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