LANSING – Dan Petterson of Ludington, motorcycle safety advocate and educator for over 40 years, has been recognized by the Governor’s Road Safety Advisory Commission (GTSAC) for his outstanding involvement in road safety at its upcoming ceremony virtual road safety award ceremony.
“Probably a month or more ago (that was when I first learned the honor),” Petterson said. “I was surprised and honored. The nomination came from two people with whom I worked very closely. They are both responsible for motorcycle safety.
Petterson was nominated for the Richard H. Austin Long-Term Service Award for his decades-long work supporting motorcycle safety efforts, education and programs as President and CEO of the Skilled Motorcyclist Association Responsible, Trained, and Educated Riders, Inc. (SMARTER), according to a press release from the commission.
“I have been a motorcyclist (most of my life). I had my first motorcycle in 1963.
It was only a few years when I was in college at Michigan State where I didn’t own a motorcycle, ”Petterson said. “I rode off-road, I rode on the road. I rode the local lakes on the ice. In fact, I started with the motorcycle safety field in 1985.
Petterson is a retired educator who last worked as a building manager at Mason County Central.
He continued to train motorcyclists and eventually began to train other coaches. It was in March 1990 that he became chief safety education trainer. He was one of the go-to instructor trainers for much of the state outside of metro Detroit.
Petterson said the award is truly recognition for SMARTER, beyond himself. He said the organization was part of a ton of research to help educate runners and coaches.
“We mainly do biker training and awareness,” he said. “What we’re trying to do is change the language. We try to focus on people (not motorcycles).
In his acceptance, Petterson said research should be followed when establishing laws and best practices. The state did not follow the research when it repealed its mandatory helmet law a few years ago.
Petterson’s efforts to raise awareness of motorcycle safety have helped reduce the number of motorcycle-related accidents in recent years, from over 4,000 in 2008 to around 2,800 in 2019. In 1990, Petterson not only achieved a doctorate in education, but also certification by Motorcycle Safety. Foundation (MSF) as chief instructor. He was named MSF 2003 RiderCoach Trainer of the Year, and in 2011 was selected as one of five countries to receive an MSF award for “Extraordinary Contributions to Motorcycle Safety”. In 2014, the Michigan Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association (MDTSEA) selected Petterson as the recipient of its Silvermale Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to road safety education.
The Richard H. Austin Long-Term Service Award is named in honor of the longest-serving Secretary of State in Michigan history (1971-1995). Austin has earned a national reputation as an outstanding and effective advocate for road safety.
The GTSAC was formed in 2002 to serve as a state forum to identify key road safety challenges and develop and implement plans to address these issues. The commission includes representatives from the state police, transport, education, state, and health and social services departments, as well as the governor’s office, human services agency seniors and adults and the Michigan Highway Safety Planning Office. There are also three representatives of the local government appointed by the governor.