Ayton recognized by Transportation Research Board
By Adam FreillConstruction Health & Safety Infrastructure
Mark Ayton has become the first Canadian to be recognized by the TRB for lifetime contributions to roadside safety.
Mark Ayton has become the first Canadian to be recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Transportation Research Board (TRB) for his role in designing safe roads, and for pushing the boundaries of engineering as he works to continually find better solutions to keep road users safe.
“We don’t tend to beat our own drum or celebrate our successes, it’s nose to the grindstone, but every now and then we do need to look around and maybe honk our own horns which is something I’m not that good at,” remarked Ayton. “Now that I look back, over the years we have saved a lot of lives, especially on median barrier projects.”
Ayton is a civil engineer and technical expert on geometric and road safety design for Safe Roads Research & Development, an Aurora-based organization that designs, develops, and tests cutting-edge road safety products.
Before joining Safe Roads, Ayton spent more than 30 years with Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation, with his last 18 years working in the Engineering Standards Office where he was responsible for the MTO’s roadside design policies, guidelines, and construction standards.
“I met Mark around 2000, and his passion for roadside safety was immediately evident. Ontario and all of North America have benefitted from his passion,” stated Dean Alberson, a senior research engineer at Safe Roads Research & Development. “Fatalities from roadside accidents have continuously diminished under his watch at MTO. Working with him since 2018 has been a capstone to my career.”
Presented at TRB’s 103rd Annual Meeting, the Kenneth A. Stonex Roadside Safety Award recognizes lifetime contributions to roadside safety. Established in 1991, the award was originally sponsored by General Motors, and named after an employee who was a pioneer for roadside safety long before the seriousness of run-off-road crashes were recognized by transportation agencies.
“There are some heavy hitters on that list, to be considered in the same breath as them is pretty overwhelming,” said Ayton, who remains dedicated to his work at Safe Roads even though he’s battling pancreatic cancer. “I don’t think there’s a better team out there, we’re disrupters, we’re looking at changing how things are done.”
“Our success as an industry hinges on people like Mark Ayton, a brilliant mind whose goal is to create safe roads for motorists and prevent fatalities,” added Lisa Laronde, president of RSG International. “We’re proud of Mark’s accomplishments and are confident in his ability to mentor the next generation of road safety leaders.”