NSC selected Gordy Pehrson and the Norfolk Panther Junior Optimist Octagon International (JOOI) Clubs as winners of the 2014 Teen Driving Safety Leadership Awards. They will be recognized at the annual NSC Congress & Expo Defensive Driving Courses banquet on September 13 in San Diego.
The award recognizes individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to reducing the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities involving teen drivers. Nominations are accepted in April, and winners are chosen each July.
NSC recognizes those who have taken actions such as:
- Led efforts that reduced teen driving crashes
- Mobilized others to get involved in teen driving issues
- Advocated for policy that would strengthen current GDL programs, or implement GDL at the community, state or federal levels.
About Gordy Pehrson
As an employee of the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety, Gordy has an inside look at the horrific aftermath of teen car crashes. He also knows that far too many Minnesota parents do not understand the crash risks their teen drivers face. He set a lofty and often difficult goal - to get parents to take a class and learn how to help their teens learn to drive.
Gordy helped create the Point of Impact
program to supplement driver’s ed classes, and he singlehandedly oversees the program’s curriculum. Point of Impact includes materials designed to help parents understand Minnesota’s teen driving laws – the state’s limitations on passengers, nighttime driving restrictions and the amount of time parents must supervise their teens driving while their teen has a learner’s permit. Gordy piloted the program in 15 communities. It now is included in the driver’s ed curriculum in 79 communities, and thousands of parents and teens have taken Point of Impact.
About the Norfolk Panther JOOI Clubs
These high school and middle school students became champions for peer-to-peer education. Starting in 2009, students involved in the local Junior Optimist clubs began seat belt checks at school and then started a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of texting. The students also started participating in national awareness campaigns – Celebrate My Drive, It Can Wait and Act Out Loud - that bring safe driving messages and activities to schools. The students took it to the next level and hosted the Nebraska Safe Driving Summit last April.
Now, legislators have joined the movement. The proposed Nebraska Roadway Safety Act will improve safety belt, texting and Graduated Driver Licensing laws by elevating them to primary enforcement.
The students’ efforts also helped Norfolk become a “Safe Community” – a distinction NSC gives to communities that display exceptional dedication to safety.