The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Award
The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Awards recognize notable achievements in the field of highway safety during the prior calendar year by individuals, coalitions, organizations, nonprofit groups, businesses, government agencies, universities or programs. About Peter K. O'Rourke
2008 Winner: Pennsylvania Occupant Protection Program
In 2007, Pennsylvania's statewide seat belt usage rate reached an all time high of 86.7 percent-a phenomenal 17 percent gain over its 2000 belt usage rate. This achievement is particularly notable given that Pennsylvania is a secondary seat belt law state. This increase was the result of a well-coordinated and multifaceted occupant protection program.
The Buckle Up PA Program (BUPA), conducted by both Pennsylvania State Police and municipal police agencies, includes a Statewide Seat Belt Law Enforcement Liaison (LEL) and five regional LELs administrating seat belt enforcement, education and police training. In 2007, a key BUPA goal was to increase the number of police contacts with motorists. There were 2,414,284 vehicles detained throughout the four major seat belt crackdown events in Pennsylvania last year, an increase of nearly one million from 2006.
BUPA held four major enforcement events in 2007. Two mobilizations-Thanksgiving and Memorial Day- coincided with national holidays. The other two were held in March and September in "Counties of Opportunities"- high population counties with low belt use and above average unbelted fatalities. Complementing these mobilizations were public awareness and media campaigns.
2007 also saw the development of a web-based police mobilization reporting system and an updated BUPA website (www.buckleuppa.org). Officers were trained to instruct elementary, middle and high school aged children to protect themselves with booster seats and seat belts.
The Seat Belt Mobilization Mini Grants Project was a new initiative developed by PennDOT and put into action for the May mobilization. Grants were given to 206 police agencies targeted with a high number of unbelted crashes on particular roadways in their jurisdiction. These mini grants were a wonderful way to support areas that needed extra enforcement and helped increase the number of involved police departments.
2007 was a groundbreaking year for PennDOT and the overall safety of Pennsylvania's roadways. The proven formula of high visibility enforcement, increased contacts and citations, and educating teens and young children gives Pennsylvania a solid foundation to build on its successes and continue reducing the number of crashes and fatalities statewide.