Teen Traffic Safety Mini Grants

State: OH Type: Model Practice Year: 2007

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Teen Traffic Safety Mini Grants targeted high school students at 14 out of 41 Franklin County high schools addressing the public health issue of injury prevention, specifically motor vehicle related injury and death. The goal of the program was to increase high school student safety belt use via the following objectives:

  • Fouteen Franklin County High Schools will implement safety belt utilization education and demonstration programs in 2005-2006.
  • Student groups to take ownership of the traffic safety programming in 14 high schools.
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Columbus Public Health
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Teen Traffic Safety Mini Grants
Teen Traffic Safety Mini Grants targeted high school students at 14 out of 41 Franklin County high schools addressing the public health issue of injury prevention, specifically motor vehicle related injury and death. The goal of the program was to increase high school student safety belt use via the following objectives: Fouteen Franklin County High Schools will implement safety belt utilization education and demonstration programs in 2005-2006. Student groups to take ownership of the traffic safety programming in 14 high schools.
The Franklin County Safe Communities Teen Traffic Safety Mini Grant program addresses youth motor vehicle safety. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens. In Ohio in 2005, the 16-20 year old age group accounted for the highest percentage of drivers killed and injured in motor vehicle crashes (ODPS, 2005). In Franklin County, teens are about 10% of the population, but in 2002, teens accounted for 15% (12) of the deadly crashes and 23% (156) of hospitalizations for two days or longer. In 2002, Franklin County had 79 fatal crashes (Central Ohio Trauma System, 2004). When a lap and shoulder belt are used correctly, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 45% (NHTSA). Safety belts also prevent passengers from being thrown from the car during a crash. This is important in preventing deaths since 75% of car passengers who are totally ejected during a crash are killed (NHTSA). Safe Communities reviewed crash data to determine if there was a need for a teen focused initiative. After review, it was determined that there was a need for an educational program. Teen Traffic Safety mini-grants target the population with the highest risk for death or injury due to a motor vehicle crash. The mini grants foremost priority is to increase awareness on the importance of safety belt use. The student group receiving the mini grant plan and implement activities that focus on increasing safety belt use. The program has found that providing mini grants, working with a high school student group and giving ownership to the student group is an effective way to make an impact on the target audience. Within the state of Ohio, there are over twenty Safe Communities programs. Franklin County Safe Communities was the first program to offer high school mini-grants. From an on-line search, there were no other programs found offering mini grants for traffic safety. From the on-line search, other education based programs were found, but none of those programs had the mini grant component. Another approach used to address youth motor vehicle safety include "one time" programs, such as a mock crash before prom. The mini grant program aims to create awareness for months at a time and through various avenues. Another approach used to address safety belt use is increased law enforcement. While increased law enforcement complements the mini grant program, the mini grant program focuses on the safety reasons for wearing a safety belt, not about preventing a citation.
Agency Community RolesColumbus Public Health's Franklin County Safe Communities (SC) program is the lead organization for this program. Safe Communities developed the mini grant idea and designed the application. The mini grant program was developed as a tool to start relationships with area high schools. Before the mini grant program, it was very difficult to work with the high schools. The SC program coordinates the application, reporting and funding procedures. The high school student group, as the primary program partner, conducts the majority of program planning, implementing and evaluating. Safe Communities goal is to be a resource to the student group. Safe Communities is a resource for activity ideas, assistance with activities, material resources and for connections within the safety community. Safe Communities is a coalition of local law enforcement, trauma hospitals, businesses and community organizations such as MADD. Many coalition partners assist with the high school activities. For example, two of the local trauma hospitals have injury prevention presentations. When a high school requests a traffic safety presentation, SC provides the connection to the trauma programs for a presentation. Local law enforcement is often involved when activities such as mock crashes take place. Having community partners is extremely helpful. Each community partner has their own area of expertise to offer the mini grant schools. Costs and ExpendituresFunding sources for this program include: The Ohio Department of Public Safety/Governor's Highway Safety Office (ODPS/GHSO) - Safe Communities grant and material/resources; Columbus Public Health. The implementation, start-up, and in-kind costs totaled $8,000. ImplementationImplementaion schedule: February – September 2005: High School appropriate traffic safety activity ideas were researched and compiled. July 2005: Teen Traffic Safety mini-grant application was designed. A safety belt survey was designed. The number of $500 mini-grants available was determined. August 2005: All 41 Franklin County High Schools were contacted via letter/grant application to the principal, school resource officer, nurse and health teacher. High schools in which a contact was already established were also contacted via email. September 2005: A folder of activity ideas and resources were prepared for each $500 mini grant school (14 schools). October 2005-March 2006: The Safe Communities (SC) Coordinator met with each high school student group that applied to speak with them about activities and ownership of the program. Each high school that accepted the $500 mini-grant was given a packet of information outlining activities ideas and free resources. December 2005: Safe Communities received free resources from the Ohio Department of Public Safety/Governor’s Highway Safety Office to distribute to the high schools (Save Face campaign material, banners and yard signs). December 2005-April 2006: Twelve of 14 Schools successfully completed a pre safety belt survey before conducting any activities. The SC Coordinator assisted high schools with activities. All completed safety belt survey forms were given to Safe Communities. May - June 2006: After all activities were completed, a post safety belt survey was conducted. High School activity highlights included: Presentations; TV commercials aired over morning announcements; Safety belt stencil painted on driveways; Parents of seniors were mailed a post card reminding them to speak to their child about driving/riding safely on prom night; Gave incentives to those entering/leaving the school parking lot buckled up; Participated in a Homecoming Parade; Safety message on electronic message board; Used Styrofoam cups to spell out Buckle Up in chain link fence; Red balloons were tied one by one in a common area to acknowledge people who were killed in car crashes due to destructive decisions during a school day; Mock Crash/Mock Trial/Mock Funeral/ThinkFirst presentation; A buckle up label was adhered to the back of each student and staff parking pass
Objective 1: Fourteen Franklin County High Schools will implement safety belt utilization education and demonstration programs in 2005-2006. Performance Measures: Safe Communities worked with 14 high schools and 14 high schools received the $500 mini grant. All high schools conducted safety belt activities but only 12 correctly completed the pre safety belt survey. Two high schools did not follow directions and their completed forms could not be used. Only ten schools completed the post safety belt survey. The number of schools that received a mini grant was based on the amount of funding available.  Feedback:The results were shared with the high school, the funding agency (ODPS/GHSO) and the Safe Communities Coalition.  The primary lesson learned was that safety belt survey directions needed to be more explicit.  More directions were added to the safety belt survey direction sheet. In future practices, the SC Coordinator reviewed the forms with the schools in more detail. Outcome: 80% of schools that completed pre- and post-safety belt surveys increased safety belt use rates. Of schools that increased, the average increase was almost 10%. Of all school that completed pre and post safety belt checks, the overall increase was 1%. The overall driver increase was 2%. The overall passenger increase was 1%. Objective 2: Student groups to take ownership of the traffic safety programming in 14 high schools.  Performance Measures: High school student groups, or a group formed just for this purpose, were eligible for the mini grant. The group had to take it on as one of their projects. Examples of student groups include: Student Senate, Youth to Youth, Teen Institute, the Renaissance Club, the Teen Traffic Safety Club, Key Club, SADD, and a government class. When the SC Coordinator met with each student group, a packet of information containing traffic safety educational information and activities ideas were given. The group was made aware that the activity ideas were just ideas and that they could be creative. The student groups were to choose their own activities based on what they thought would have the most impact on their peers.  Feedback: The SC Coordinator kept track of each high school's activities. The results were shared with the funding agency (ODPS/GHSO).  Many lessons were learned during the first year of the mini grant program. One, there wasn't a mechanism in place for schools to report on their activities. Two, SC expected more activities to be done than what was required in the grant. The requirements were not effectively written. Three, some high schools were more responsive to requests than others. Four, two of the student groups relied too much on the SC Coordinator.  One, for the 2006-2007 school year mini grant project, a monthly reporting system was implemented. Two, more requirements were added to the grant - to truly reflect what SC wanted to be done. Three, when working with schools, try to figure out the best way to communicate and be as flexible as possible. Four, during the 2006-2007 school year, the SC Coordinator tried to give the student groups more of the programming responsibilities. Outcome: Of the 14 mini grant schools, 11 took ownership of their program. Two groups were very dependent on the SC Coordinator and one group failed to complete all of the mini grant requirements.
SustainabilityThe 2005-2006 mini grant program was funded through a Safe Communities grant received by Columbus Public Health. The mini grant program is also being implemented at the same funding level during the 2006-2007 school year. SC will continue to ask for funding for the mini grant program. With these mini grants, relationships with participating schools are building and the schools are becoming more vested in traffic safety. If mini-grants are no longer available, SC will provide as much non-monetary assistance as possible to continue the activities. Many activities can be done with little or no money. All of the schools will have received the activity ideas and free resources such as the banners and yard signs. Safe Communities always passes along information on additional funding sources. At least one school is writing a grant for additional funding this year. If funding is no longer available, SC will assist the schools in looking for community sponsors such as the Kiwanis Club and local insurance agencies. Lessons LearnedMany lessons were learned during the first year of the mini grant program. One, there wasn't a mechanism in place for schools to report on their activities. Two, SC expected more activities to be done than what was required in the grant. The requirements were not effectively written. Three, some high schools were more responsive to requests than others. Four, two of the student groups relied too much on the SC Coordinator. Another lesson learned was that safety belt survey directions needed to be more explicit. More directions were added to the safety belt survey direction sheet. In future practices, the SC Coordinator reviewed the forms with the schools in more detail.
 
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