Minnesota Department of Transportation

511 Travel Info

News releases

Oct. 17, 2022

Latest news releases

Toward Zero Deaths Program Honors Two Local Leaders in Traffic Safety

ROCHESTER, Minn. – Two southeast Minnesota community members, Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson and Winona County Deputy Chad Myers, were among the 11 individuals and one organization honored by the Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths program for their outstanding traffic safety efforts.

Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson  standing in his uniform in front of a Minnesota Toward Zero Death bannerWinona County Deputy Chad Myers  standing in his uniform in front of a Minnesota Toward Zero Death banner

Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson and Winona County Deputy Chad Myers

The awards were announced at the 2022 Statewide Toward Zero Deaths Conference. The prestigious traffic safety awards recognize excellence and innovation in reducing the number of life-changing crashes and improving traffic safety on Minnesota roads. They are presented annually by the Minnesota departments of health, public safety and transportation. Nearly 900 traffic safety professionals attended this year’s TZD conference.

Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson was honored with the Distinguished Public Leadership Award. Sheriff Torgerson champions a strong traffic safety emphasis as part of a larger public safety strategy and has been involved in traffic safety for more than 36 years.

“I’m very honored to represent the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office’s effort with traffic safety and the Towards Zero Deaths campaign,” Torgerson said. “Traffic safety has been a career-long passion for me and I have tried to pass that on to the next generation in our office.”

Deputy Chad Myers was honored with the TZD Enforcement Star Award for his uncompromising fight to rid Minnesota roadways of impaired drivers. 

“Working with Sheriff Torgerson and Deputy Myers is so rewarding,” said Jessica Schleck, southeast Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths regional coordinator. “I feel very fortunate to be a part of the TZD program and collaborate with such dedicated individuals.”

Sheriff Torgerson has led the office in partnering with the community and various organizations to advance trust, improve transparency and establish itself as a regional leader. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheriff Torgerson put increased emphasis on his own agency’s traffic enforcement unit, leading by example.                                                                       

Deputy Chad Myers has been a countywide leader in DWI arrests almost every year since he began in law enforcement, nearly 20 years ago. His knowledge is often called upon during complex or unique DWI investigations. Deputy Myers is also an instructor in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing, law enforcement phlebotomist and a drug recognition evaluator.

“More than ever, we need people who are passionate about traffic safety and are willing to train and share with others their innovative ways to reduce traffic-related deaths,” said Kristine Hernandez, Minnesota statewide TZD program coordinator. “Both Sheriff Torgerson and Deputy Myers have demonstrated unique ideas to help reduce those risks through community involvement and mentoring others.”

The Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) traffic safety program is an interdisciplinary partnership led by the state departments of health, transportation and public safety. This collaboration began in 2003 and has worked to reduce roadway fatalities by 25 percent.

A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes – education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma response — and everyone doing the right thing when driving.

The Southeast Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths program brings area law enforcement, public health educators, engineers and emergency medical and trauma services together to reduce the number of traffic fatalities and severe injuries to zero in southeast Minnesota. The 11-county area encompasses:  Dodge, Fillmore, Freeborn, Goodhue, Houston, Mower, Olmsted, Rice, Steele, Wabasha and Winona counties.