The High School Traffic Safety Challenge
The most successful and longest running of any of DRIVE SMART COLORADO’s programs
2016 McDivitt Law Firm Video Contest
The Challenge is reproducible in your own community. Traffic related deaths are the number one killer of teens. Safety belt use reduces injury rate by 50% – 75%. To assist with teen motor vehicle safety and knowledge on a local level, DRIVE SMART Colorado Springs created the High School Traffic Safety Challenge. This extremely successful program has been taking place annually since 1989. Area high school students design a seven-week long traffic safety program to fit their schools individual needs. Each school must fulfill two minimum requirements to complete the challenge—three unannounced safety belt checks, and a “mandatory” presentation (these presentations vary year-to-year; examples of past topics include drinking and driving, responsible driving, aggressive driving. – Generally a video and discussion during an assembly or in smaller class settings). These presentations are typically given by the School Resource Officer, but volunteers on the DRIVE SMART Colorado Springs alliance have also presented when and SRO is not available. The “mandatory” presentation changes annually. Additionally, there are suggested programs that could be added to enhance their campaign. In addition to the mandatory presentation, there is a long list of alliance members who take their “show on the road” and make presentations at any high school that requests them. By offering additional presentations, the students broaden the base of their campaign and can appeal to and reach a wider audience. There is a creative writing, art poster and video contest that is designed to create more avenues for participation. There are videos available for use in science and health classes or during lunch break. Students have an opportunity to win cash awards, be creative in their campaign, educate their fellow students and potentially, save lives. (details are in the High School Traffic Safety Challenge Kit/Manual)
For the most part, public and private high schools in the Pikes Peak Region (El Paso and Teller Counties) are familiar with the DRIVE SMART High School Traffic Safety Challenge. While this challenge is a voluntary program it continues to grow annually. The first challenge began with six area high schools participating, and for the past several years there have been between 21 – 25 area high schools successfully complete the challenge, which takes place each fall.
The DRIVE SMART High School Traffic Safety Challenge has been so successful since the first campaign was organized in 1989, that it is currently being reviewed to see if it can be labeled a “best practice model” and thus be available as an evaluated recommended program. Currently, before all of the findings are in, we know that it works in Colorado Springs (based upon comparisons from Colorado teen safety belt use verses Colorado Springs teen safety belt use) to increase safety belt use in teens. More recently Distracted Driving has been moved into a focus for the challenge and schools that participate in the challenge have reduced cell phone use during the challenge time frame by as much as 14%. The added benefit is the increased knowledge and exposure to additional traffic safety messages. It can be reproduced in your own community in one or several high schools, using your own community resources.