State Highway Safety Showcase
The North Dakota Department of Transportation’s Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) works hard to develop, implement and evaluate programs that reduce motor vehicle crashes and related fatalities, injuries and property damage.
The OTS has been active in promoting the Safe Communities Program across North Dakota. Safe Communities is a grass-roots, data-driven program that defines injury prevention needs in communities across the state. The program is driven by statewide, community and individual partnerships, which have proven effective in saving lives and reducing injuries on North Dakota’s highways.
The goal of the Safe Communities concept is to initiate community programs that address traffic-related injuries within the context of all injuries. Including traffic safety within the larger injury problem serves two distinct purposes:
- It allows traffic safety professionals to leverage resources and share strategies and ideas with others who are working similar problems.
- It enhances the visibility of existing programs designed to achieve national, state, and local safety goals.
At present, there are eleven Safe Communities in North Dakota. The program funding is well spent and is effective due to community support and continued efforts to build and implement comprehensive education plans.
The Safe Communities Programs are instrumental in helping tp increase seat belt usage. Awareness is built through PSA’s, news conferences, Trooper trivia, assisting with radio remotes and developing and implementing occupant protection campaigns throughout the year. During 2006, North Dakota saw an increase of 3.2% in the number of motorists buckling up, raising the overall average to 79%. According to a recent survey, the number of North Dakotans buckling up in 2007 has increased to 82.2%.
Additional Safe Communities programs include: alcohol education with community involvement, occupant protection programs including child passenger safety, media campaigns, partnering with state and local law enforcement, and other injury prevention programs.
School Site Safety projects are being done at individual schools and include a “battle of the belts” program in the Safe Communities regions. Victim Impact Panels, Server Ttraining, collaboration with law enforcement on underage compliance checks, Cops and Docs, Shoulder Tap, PSA’s, Child Passenger Safety Month and monthly or quarterly car seat checkups are just a few of the projects that make the Safe Communities Programs work.
The program is also host to a website geared toward helping those interested in making their communities safer. The ultimate goal of North Dakota’s Safe Communities program is to grow and strengthen it to provide statewide coverage.
- Carol Thurn
North Dakota Department of Transportation