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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

2010 Winner: Crawford County S.A.F.E. Program

All 2010 Highway Safety Award Winners

Crawford County S.A.F.E. Program Pledge Card

Kansas teens present a highway safety challenge on two fronts: they are less likely to buckle up and more likely to be involved in a crash. In spite of education programs, teens often remain stuck in the "it won't happen to me" mindset, convinced they are immune from serious injury or death or from stops by the police.

To counter this assumption, the Kansas DOT developed the S.A.F.E. (Seat Belts Are For Everyone) program, which capitalizes on teen buying power by using a combination of positive and negative incentives to change behavior. Rewards include chances to win $25 Visa cards (donated by local businesses) in exchange for pledges to buckle up, as well as school-wide prizes. On the other hand, seat belt enforcement campaigns can result in $60 citations.

These positive and negative incentives are complemented by education activities such as assemblies, announcements, and Convincer and Rollover demonstrations by the Kansas Highway Patrol. Measurable outcomes are obtained utilizing unannounced baseline, mid-year and post-enforcement seat belt compliance rate surveys.

In 2008 - 2009, the Crawford County Sheriff's Office piloted the program. Law enforcement representatives began by building a coalition of support among school administrators, media, and business/organization representatives such as AAA of Kansas, banks, the Kansas State Troopers' Association, and Kansas Farm Bureau, along with Kansas Department of Transportation. As the school year began, school administrators selected student committees, each of which was assigned a law enforcement sponsor. After coalition meetings and seat belt survey trainings, students conducted an unannounced baseline seat belt use survey.

In December, seat belt pledge cards were distributed to students (without any mention of prizes). Schools held assemblies to announce the program and award $25 Visa cards to six randomly selected students who had submitted pledge cards. For the rest of the winter and early spring, students were inundated with safety messages, punctuated by monthly Visa card drawings.

Students conducted mid-term seat belt use surveys in early 2009, and afterwards, law enforcement agencies held saturation patrols targeting high school student drivers and passengers, issuing citations to anyone not buckled up. Students conducted their final seat belt use surveys in mid-April. The coalition presented an award to both the school with the highest compliance percentage and the most improved school. Each school held a pledge card drawing for a laptop and five iPods.

The Crawford County S.A.F.E. program was student-driven. Student representatives conceived the S.A.F.E. name and designed the logo and student pledge cards. Additionally, student committee members were trained to conduct the seat belt surveys. The program received high-density media involvement and earned coverage. Five major media outlets plus school newspapers and the Kansas State Troopers' Magazine provided full reports on the project.

The outcomes of the Crawford County S.A.F.E. program speak for themselves. A 16.3 percent increase in the teen student seat belt rate in one of Kansas' most seat belt-resistant counties meant an additional 306 students were traveling safer each day. Student targeted enforcement efforts saw the number of citations decrease dramatically – from 262 in 2008 (prior to the S.A.F.E. pilot) to just 64 in 2009 and 25 in 2010.

The success of Crawford County S.A.F.E. has ignited interest in six other Kansas counties, which completed the program in 2009 - 2010. As many as 22 counties will operate the S.A.F.E. program for the 2010 - 2011 school year. The program has also generated the attention of several other states that are considering replicating it.

For more information on Crawford County S.A.F.E., contact Dave Corp
at 316-250-9654 or