The Indiana County Highway Safety Project, part of Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Rural Health and Safety, is working with the Indiana County Commissioners, Pennsylvania State Police, Sheriff Bob Fyock, and Margy Gray State Farm Insurance for an awareness campaign for safe driving during the summer holiday season.

“Last year in District 10, there were 49 traffic fatalities. We would like to remind people to be safe and be smart over the Independence Day holiday by bringing awareness to this and placing 49 small American flags on the courthouse front lawn prior to July 4,” Amy Shellhammer, Indiana County Highway Safety Project coordinator, said.

“There will also be a banner explaining what these 49 flags represent, sponsored by Margy Gray of State Farm Insurance.”

From left: Louis Pesci, director of IUP’s Institute for Rural Health and Safety; Sheriff Bob Fyock; Amy Shellhammer, coordinator, Indiana County Highway Safety Project; and Indiana County Commissioners Robin Gorman, Sherene Hess, and R. Michael Keith

IUP’s Institute for Rural Health and Safety recently received $104,000 in federal funding through the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for the Indiana County Highway Safety Project, a program designed to promote safe driving, including seatbelt use, in the region.

The grant focuses on the PennDOT District 10 counties of Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana, and Jefferson. Through a cooperative agreement with the boards of commissioners of these counties and the IUP Institute of Rural Health and Safety, the program is designed to offer information and education to serve the statistically identified traffic safety needs of groups in those communities. 

The District 10 area includes approximately 427,000 residents who are traveling on 9,044 miles of mostly rural roadways. According to PennDOT statistics, highway crashes continue to be a threat to the health and safety of highway users throughout the region, Shellhammer said. From 2017 to 2021, there were 2,290 crashes in the region, and the 255 fatalities resulting from crashes in the region were not wearing seatbelts.

“Drunk and impaired driving, aggressive driving and speeding, and distracted driving continue to be significant factors in fatal crashes,” she said. “Young drivers (ages 16 to 24) and older drivers (over the age of 65) are overrepresented in all collisions,” Shellhammer said. “Education about these issues is a major part of the Project objective.”

Shellhammer is available to present programming to area groups and organizations. She can be reached at 724-357-1352 or by email at

The IUP Institute for Rural Health and Safety began in the early 1980s as the Highway Safety Center. The mission of the Institute for Rural Health and Safety is to bring together university personnel from various disciplines and professional backgrounds to assist the people of Pennsylvania and national and international organizations in solving problems related to highway traffic safety while maintaining the values of good transportation.

Applying university resources toward traffic improvement, the Institute for Rural Health and Safety is a liaison between university personnel and state and local officials; business, industrial, and professional interests; and other groups and individuals.