Save the date for ATSSA’s 2025 event in Orlando, Feb. 28-March 4
ATSSA members pored over the updated version of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), explored innovations, discussed applications of artificial intelligence and learned leadership lessons from a history-making female fighter pilot during this year’s Annual Convention & Traffic Expo.
Carey Lohrenz was the first female fighter pilot for the F-14 Tomcat and spent about 10 years in the Navy, serving aboard an aircraft carrier, planning, executing and debriefing complex missions where she supervised 200-250 people in addition to her pilot duties.
“No different than you, we had to figure out, how do you achieve the extraordinary? How do you achieve the impossible when you are constantly being put in an environment that is filled with uncertainty and risk,” she said.
What she learned was that the best leaders tend to possess three characteristics. They operate with courage – going forward in fear, possess tremendous tenacity and act with integrity, “having the audacity to do the right thing,” she said.
Groundbreaking female fighter pilot Carey Lohrenz speaks at opening general session.
Lohrenz served as keynote speaker for the Convention’s opening general session Sunday morning and then spent about an hour at the Women in Roadway Safety Council luncheon, sharing insights from working in a male-dominated field.
The 54th Annual Convention & Traffic Expo set an attendance record with more than 4,000 people registered for the event that concluded yesterday at the San Diego Convention Center. The five-day event featured education, exploration and some friendly competition.
The Convention kicked off on Friday with the 32nd AnnualGolf Classic Tournament and a luncheon for those who registered for the 11th AnnualSporting Clays Event. Weather played a role in both events, which are the primary fundraisers of the year for the ATSS Foundation, the charitable arm of ATSSA. Golfers experienced rain and sleet before skies cleared. Shooters shifted to a luncheon with games and drawings after the facility canceled the clays competition because heavy rains ahead of the Convention created unsafe conditions.
Two Roadway Worker Memorial Scholarship recipients took part in the Foundation events and Convention. Sydney Parsons of Kelso, Wash., attended the golf tournament with her father, Brandon Parsons, who was permanently disabled after a work zone incident in 2016.
Leah McCance’s father, Joshua McCance, was killed in a work zone incident when she was 21 months old. The resident of Broken Arrow, Okla., and college freshman attended the Sporting Clays luncheon on Friday with her mother, Grace McCance, and sister, Kyra McCance, and then played the National Anthem on her trumpet to start the Convention’s opening general session on Sunday.
Roadway Worker Memorial Scholarship recipient Leah McCance plays the National Anthem during Sunday’s opening general session.
Dependents of roadway workers killed or permanently disabled in work zone incidents can apply for a Roadway Worker Memorial Scholarship so the presence of Sydney and Leah brought home the significance of supporting the Foundation and its programs.
The opening general session also included announcement of three national award winners. David Krahulec of Horizon Signal Technologies was honored with the Industry Achievement Award. Bill Lambert of the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (NHDOT) was honored with the National Safety Award and Beth Ruyak of Ruyak Media was honored with the National Media Award.
ATSSA Vice President of Education & Technical Services Donna Clark was honored ahead of her retirement this month after nearly three decades of service.
After the opening general session, Convention attendees spread out across the Traffic Expo floor where they interacted with more than 230 exhibitors displaying everything from massive vehicles to small, high-tech devices to protect roadway workers.
Visitors had the opportunity to get a glimpse of roadway safety infrastructure devices depicted in their natural setting as they walked through ATSSA’s Safety Pavilion, which represented both rural and urban areas.
On the Expo floor and in classroom settings, attendees were treated to 41 education sessions covering topics from tips for navigating the process if you’re sued, to a panel on the nation’s Build America policy, to sessions on how to respond if faced with danger in a work zone and deciphering the updated MUTCD.
On Monday, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy offered her frank insights on transportation safety after emphasizing that her agency addresses safety in all modes of transportation, not just aviation, transit and rail.
She noted that 95% of all transportation deaths take place on the nation’s roads and that accepting any roadway fatalities is not acceptable.
NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy served with former U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, center, on a Government & Legislative Insights Forum moderated by ATSSA Vice President of Government Relations Brian Oszakiewski on Monday.
Homendy opened her remarks by describing the March 2023 incident near Baltimore, Md., that claimed the lives of six roadway workers and noted that about 950 roadway workers die in work zone crashes each year.
“In a truly safe system, none of those six workers should have died,” she said.
Homendy was part of a Government and Legislative Insights Forum moderated by ATSSA Vice President of Government Relations Brian Oszakiewski. Former U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois joined Homendy on the panel, offering advocacy insights from his decade on Capitol Hill.
The next generation of roadway safety professionals was in the spotlight on Sunday afternoon when winners of this year’s Traffic Control Device (TCD) Student Challenge presented their winning topics on the Expo floor.
Angelina Caggiano represented the winning team from the University of Massachusetts Amherst which received first place for the project entitled, “Ascending Passive Detection to Light the way of Vulnerable Road Users (GlowSafely).”
Auburn University’s second-place team was represented by Ernest Nsong Asiedu and University of Connecticut’s third-place team was represented by Saki Rezwana.
On Monday, a sold-out crowd of Young Industry Professionals took part in a networking event sponsored by Shur-Tite at The Shout, where dueling pianos entertained.
On Tuesday, the Circle of Innovation (COI) offered insights from public officials across the country as well as the winner of this year’s Innovation Award.
RoadPrintz’s robotic pavement marking system Electra was named winner of the Innovation Award from 18 entries submitted for the New Products Rollout. LimnTech Scientific, PSS Innovations and SpanPath received honorable mentions for the products they presented.
From left, Sarah Lacorte of PSS Innovations, Gevin McDaniel of SpanPath, Wyatt Newman of RoadPrintz, and Doug Dolinar of LimnTech Scientific were honored at Tuesday’s Circle of Innovation. RoadPrintz received the Innovation Award.
COI also included a panel discussion on the benefits and challenges of artificial intelligence, a presentation on a culture of safety from Lambert of NHDOT, a discussion on commercial vehicle communication in work zones by Darcy Bullock of Purdue University, and a pilot conducted in Virginia on autonomous truck mounted attenuators (TMAs) by Mike Mollenhauer of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI).
“This year’s Convention & Traffic Expo helped advance our goals of improving roadway safety and moving Toward Zero Deaths on a variety of fronts,” said ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner. “We benefitted from highly technical ideas for addressing safety challenges, held valuable conversations about the new version of the MUTCD, received valuable insights on roadway safety from NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy and learned lessons on risk and reward from one of America’s first female fighter pilots, Carey Lohrenz. This event will spark numerous advances in roadway safety that will shape an even more exciting agenda that will be featured at ATSSA’s 2025 meeting.”
ATSSA’s 2025 Convention & Traffic Expo takes place Feb. 28-March 4 in Orlando, Fla.