Congratulations to this year's award recipients! Awards were presented at the 2023 TZD Conference on November 14 in Rochester, MN.
2023 Star Awards
Child Passenger Safety: Aimee Eggen
Aimee Eggen is a child passenger safety technician with Norman-Mahnomen Public Health. In this role, she has provided car seat distribution and education to 277 clients and has educated hundreds of community members through health fairs, school presentations, and car seat checks. She has built strong partnerships with local clinics, community action agencies, law enforcement, schools, and businesses and uses these to share passenger safety messages. During the pandemic, Aimee continued to serve families by providing virtual car seat visits. She works diligently to increase her clients’ knowledge and use of car seats while also working to decrease inequitable access
Education: K9 Deputy Luis Figueroa
K9 Deputy Luis Figueroa serves as the Martin County Safe Roads Coalition Coordinator and TZD law enforcement contact. Through these roles, he has been instrumental in bringing educational programs and events such as Responsible Beverage Server training to Martin County. Deputy Figueroa has facilitated traffic safety education at local high schools through a mock crash and by attending health classes to talk about distracted and impaired driving. In October 2022 Deputy Figueroa organized a traffic safety education event for the Spanish community, working with the TZD coordinator and CPS technicians to bring in information and car seat checks to over 20 families.
Emergency Medical & Trauma Services: Chris Ballard
As the former trauma system coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Health, Chris Ballard helped build the infrastructure of Minnesota’s trauma system. The state trauma system requires local facilities to provide education for medical providers to facilitate trauma care; however, national training courses are costly and often not the best fit for staff who may only work in the ER during times of crisis. To meet this need, Chris created a cost-effective video program for critical-access hospital nurses that represents local trauma protocols and can be taken “on demand” instead of during a two-day period that often stretches staffing. Chris was integral in developing a way to provide this vital education to hospitals that increases the odds of survival for crash victims.
Enforcement: Officer Luke Nelson
As a traffic enforcement officer, Luke Nelson is not only involved in his own community of Eagan but also supports and leads many initiatives to improve roadway safety throughout Dakota County. He collaborates with others through law enforcement grant efforts, Dakota County TZD, and school presentations. He also serves as a technical expert at public meetings for proposed street and pedestrian safety improvement projects. Officer Nelson organized the “Busted by the Bus” program that targeted school bus stop-arm violations. In addition, as part of the police department’s social media team, Officer Nelson participates in virtual ride-alongs, helping community members see firsthand the safety risks that occur every day and reinforcing safe driving habits.
Engineering: Lars Impola
Lars Impola is the acting district traffic engineer for MnDOT’s Metro District. Through decades of experience in traffic engineering, Lars has been a leader in implementing proactive engineering solutions systemically around the district. His tireless efforts have led to a greater adoption of countermeasures aimed at preventing deaths and serious injuries, even when it would have been easier to give in to public or political pressure opposing those solutions. Lars volunteers at TZD outreach events, actively participates on the TZD steering committee, serves as a member of highway safety coalitions around the metro area, and has regularly attended state and regional TZD events for many years. In addition to his engineering accomplishments, Lars has been active in the enforcement realm through his work as a Plymouth Police Department Reserve Officer for 27 years.
Judicial/Court System Award: Kathy Keena
Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena works tirelessly to support efforts to prevent fatal and serious-injury crashes on the county’s roadways. She holds offenders responsible and supports victims and survivors of third-degree murder, criminal vehicular homicide and operation, impaired driving, distracted driving, careless driving, and other life-changing decisions. Kathy has championed victim specialists to walk with survivors through the criminal justice system, providing resources as they navigate the trauma of loss. In addition, Kathy successfully argued the appeal of a criminal case concerning Minnesota’s DWI test refusal statute before the US Supreme Court—a win on behalf of those fighting impaired driving.
2023 Traffic Safety Innovation Award
Renville County Public Health, Renville County Sheriff’s Office, and the Minnesota State Patrol
The recipients of this year’s award have created a program to address the lack of access to car seats in Greater Minnesota. In some communities, car seats are unavailable in local stores or from other entities, such as public health departments, after business hours. As part of the Renville County TZD Coalition, Sgt. Sabrina Skold, Krista Schneider of Renville County Public Health, and Deputy Karla Koplin of the Renville County Sheriff’s Office created a plan to make car seats available in all 10 communities within the county. A spreadsheet tracks all of the car seat locations and expiration dates, and seats are stored at police and fire departments, along with installation videos for parents in case a technician is unavailable.
2023 TZD Media Award
Kyle Bradt is actively involved in the Southeast TZD Steering Committee and the Olmsted County TZD Safe Roads coalition. As the media development specialist with the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office, he raises awareness and educates the public on safe driving through videos and social media. Kyle has created original videos and social media posts covering all aspects of traffic safety, including impaired driving, seat belt use, distracted driving, pedestrian safety, motorcycle safety, and speed. He has interviewed and developed relationships with those impacted by fatal and serious-injury crashes to produce videos that share the stories and impact on families, friends, and local communities. In one month alone, he reached nearly 70,000 people with his messages and videos.