2013 GDL Champions Winners

The GDL Champions program was established in 2011 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of NJ’s Graduated Driver License Program. In 2013, six Champions join twenty individuals, organizations and initiatives were inducted into the Classes of 2011 and 2012. Past and current inductees represent both the public and private sectors, and include teachers, parents, teens, community activists, elected officials, police officers, businessmen and women, reporters, and safety professionals. They were nominated for the award and selected by an impartial panel of judges who are experts in teen safe driving. GDL Champions have and continue to work diligently to educate, enforce and/or advocate for the proven principles of Graduated Driver Licensing. They are driving forces behind a program that is addressing the number one cause of teen death in New Jersey and nationwide -- car crashes.


New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company (NJM)

Safety has always been central to the mission of New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company. As the state’s largest provider of personal auto insurance, NJM is committed to keeping drivers safe and has a 100-year history of partnering with its policy-holders to keep them abreast of changing laws that impact their safety. That includes Graduated Driver Licensing. NJM has and continues to provide critical GDL information to all policy holders with teen drivers in their household, about 60,000 in total. NJM is also the founding sponsor of the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey’s U Got Brains Champion Schools Program. The peer-to-peer teen safe driving program provides high schools students throughout New Jersey the opportunity to develop and implement education campaigns addressing issues novice drivers and their passengers face on the road. Students compete for the grand prize, a driving simulator for their school, which is donated by NJM. These state-of-the-art simulators provide current and future drivers-in-training the opportunity to practice real life driving skills in a safe environment. Since the program’s inception in 2010, more than 150,000 students at over 100 schools have benefitted from this innovative program.

Maureen Nussman

A classroom driver education teacher at Kinnelon High School for 14 years (25 years total in teaching), Maureen’s focus has never been about her students passing the written licensing exam. Rather, she has always been determined that every teen in her classroom would be given the experience and understanding to make better driving decisions before getting behind the wheel. Using dynamic, innovative and real-world lesson plans, she engaged and motivated her students and made “driver ed” the “cool” class. She also recognized the critical role of parents and instituted an annual teen safe driving night, tied to a graduation requirement, that is now in its sixth year at Kinnelon High. Despite retiring from teaching in June 2012, Maureen continues to mentor Kinnelon students participating in the U Got Brains Champion Schools program, while coordinating the NJ Teen Safe Driving Coalition’s outreach efforts to driver education professionals. From managing a statewide needs assessment, to planning and facilitating professional development opportunities, identifying and sharing curriculum, and providing e-updates to her peers, Maureen doesn’t view teaching driver education as a job, but a calling. Maureen’s impact is far-reaching and her passion for teaching driver education inspires and motivates her peers.

Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

The multidisciplinary group of behavioral scientists, clinicians, biostatisticians, engineers, public health practitioners, and communications professionals at the Center of Injury Research and Prevention at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are dedicated to translating research into action to keep children, teens and young adults safe from injury. Working collaboratively, they translate research into practical tools and guidelines that have proven invaluable to teen safe driving advocates in NJ. With CIRP at CHOP’s assistance, NJ’s GDL law was strengthened in 2008. The CIRP at CHOP staff also provided guidance to the NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety and Kean University as they worked to develop, pilot and evaluate the “Share the Keys” parent/teen driving orientation program. Using a program theory model advocated by CIRP at CHOP, the Division and Kean have built an evidence-based program that is helping parents recognize the critical role they play in ensuring their teens survive their most dangerous driving years. CIRP at CHOP’s interest in evaluating NJ’s decal requirement (Kyleigh’s Law) is the first scientific look at the effect of decals on crash rates. CIPR at CHOP’s declaration that “New Jersey youth and other road users are safer as a result of the decals” is an important finding that is helping to calm public concerns, disarm the detractors and inform public policy debate nationwide. CIPR at CHOP remains committed to continuing the decal study and has begun work on a second year of data analysis.

Wayne Shelton and Mike Tullio, South Jersey Traffic Safety Alliance

Working as traffic safety specialists for the South Jersey Traffic Safety Alliance, which has been serving Atlantic, Cape May, Cumberland, and Salem Counties since 1998, Wayne Shelton and Mike Tullio leveraged their collective 57 years of law enforcement experience -- Wayne with the New Jersey State Police and Mike with the Atlantic City Police Department -- to educate teens, parents, teachers, police, and community members about the proven principles of Graduated Driver Licensing. Following the fatal teen driving crash at Mainland High School in Atlantic County in 2011, Mike and Wayne partnered with school, community and state officials to focus attention on teen safe driving. They worked closely with the Division of Highway Traffic Safety and Kean University to deliver the “Share the Keys” parent/teen orientation program at the high school and were instrumental in expanding that effort to dozens of other high schools in southern and central New Jersey. They also led an effort to train teens to facilitate “Share the Keys,” which is unique to South Jersey. Their signature safety presentation, “The Most Dangerous Place on Earth,” combines their findings from numerous motor vehicle crash scenes with high school math to help teens -- more than 20,000 to date -- make better decisions regarding their safety behind the wheel. While Mike and Wayne will never know how many lives they’ve saved through their efforts, but they both agree there’s no greater reward than having a teen shake their hands and thank them for an enjoyable presentation.

Pam Fischer

Pam is a passionate coach and advocate in the world of teen driving. She’s committed to schooling anyone who cares through the process of training their new teen driver and working to ensure graduated licensing systems support our most vulnerable drivers. Pam has worked in transportation safety at both the state and national levels for more than 25 years. Before starting her own transportation safety consulting firm in 2011, Pam served as director of the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety and chaired the New Jersey Teen Driver Study Commission. Currently, she leads the New Jersey Teen Safe Driving Coalition (www.nsc.org/njteens-gdl4u), an initiative of The Allstate Foundation and the National Safety Council. Through its more than 120 individual and organizational members, the coalition works to engage, educate and mobilize communities to develop and improve safe teen driving programs, practices and activities based on the proven principles of Graduated Driver Licensing. Following the fatal Mainland High School crash involving eight high school football players in 2011, Pam developed, in partnership with the NJ State Interscholastic Athletic Association, the “GDL Game Plan for Coaches,” to help high school athletic coaches discuss safe driving and GDL with their athletes. She’s a guest blogger for Patch.com websites around New Jersey, recently authored two national reports on teen driving for the Governors Highway Safety Association, and speaks at numerous conferences and symposiums around the country as well as facilitates the Share the Keys parent-teen orientation program for high schools throughout New Jersey.