2013-04-11 / Community

Two U.P. troopers honored

Governor’s luncheon awards MSP officers

LANSING – Michigan State Police motor carrier officers Erick Kestila, of the Gladstone Post, and Daniel Litzner, of the St. Ignace Post, were recently honored at the Governor’s Traffic Safety Advisory Commission annual awards luncheon. The two received the honor by ensuring student safety by going above and beyond to complete school bus safety inspections.

Each year the commission honors organizations, programs and individuals for outstanding contributions to traffic safety. The awards luncheon is part of the 18th Annual Michigan Traffic Safety Summit. Eight Outstanding Traffic Safety Achievement awards and three long-term awards are being presented.

Although normally assigned to the Upper Peninsula, Kestila and Litzner volunteered to assist MSP school bus inspection units in the Grand Rapids and Traverse City areas that fell behind the inspection schedule due to short staffing. The Pupil Transportation Act (P.A. 187 of 1990) mandates the MSP conduct a 198-point safety inspection of all public and private school bus fleets to ensure a safe school transportation system.

Kestila and Litzner spent weeks away from their families while conducting more than 400 inspections. As a result of their extra efforts and commitment, all the legislatively required school bus inspections were completed on time in 2012.

Also recognized at the luncheon was Bonnie Raffaele of Sault Saint Marie for her efforts to raise awareness among teens about the dangers of being distracted by a cell phone while driving.

Following the tragic death of her 17-year-old daughter Kelsey in a cell phone-related crash in 2010, Raffaele became a tireless advocate for educating teens about distracted driving. She created the Kids Driving Responsibly Challenge and has given more than 50 presentations to more than 6,000 students encouraging them to sign a pledge to not use a cell phone while driving.

Raffaele was also the driving force behind Kelsey’s Law. Under the law, teen drivers with Level 1 or Level 2 licenses in the Graduated Driver Licensing program will soon be prohibited from using a cell phone while driving.

The GTSAC was formed in 2002 to serve as the state’s forum for identifying key traffic safety challenges and developing and implementing plans to address those issues. The GTSAC is comprised of representatives from the departments of: Community Health, Education, State, State Police and Transportation, as well as Office of the Governor, Office of Services to the Aging and Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. There are also three representatives from local government appointed by the Governor.

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