Updated December 10, 2010 at 5:15 PM CST: For the first time Cherokee County, Kansas is implementing the SAFE program in schools. SAFE means "Seatbelts Are For Everyone" and promotes awareness of seatbelt safety.
The Riverton FCCLA Club is promoting this program as a service project and hoping to increase compliance from its current 69%.
School officials say it is never to early to get the message across.
"Starting with the elementary school and doing short little presentations and little workshops with them," says Margaret Radlund, the FCCLA advisor at Riverton High School. "We plan on working clear up through high school and continuing awareness. Plan on making a lot of community awareness and involvement of parents as well."
The program is completely student-run and lasts until the end of the school year.
Updated May 4, 2010 at 4:42 PM CST: "SAFE" stands for "Seatbelts Are For Everyone" and on Tuesday Crawford County Sheriff Sandy Horton awarded prizes at Southeast High School in Cherokee to students who met program requirements.
Prizes included Visa gift cards and iPods.
Officials say students deserve a lot of credit.
"I am very proud to be a part of this school that has the highest compliance," says Southeast High School Principal Jeff Spangler. "I think that is what this program is all about, is to get as many kids as we can to understand safety and that this is something important."
"We hope that the lesson learned is to buckle your seatbelt and we wouldn't be here today if we didn't believe that it could make a difference in the injury and death," says Sheriff Horton.
Southeast was the program's highest rated school with 96% participation.
Representatives from the Kansas Department of Transportation and the Kansas Highway Patrol were also on hand.
Updated March 11, 2010 - 5:50 PM CST
CHANUTE, KAN. - How to get Kansans to buckle up. That is what was being brainstormed at a program near Chanute, Kansas on Thursday.
KDOT and Crawford County officials introduced some new approaches to getting adults and teens to wear seat belts consistently.
That includes a new campaign detailed by Crawford County Sheriff Sandy Horton.
The program, developed by his department in conjunction with six local high schools, has already increased seat belt use among teens.
Updated May 1, 2009 at 4:55 PM CST: Earlier this year Crawford County received the title of worst county in the state for seat belt use.
But area teens want to change those stats with the SAFE program.
Students at six county high schools signed pledge cards to buckle up.
Girard High School was awarded the grand prize on Friday as the school for the most improved percentage increase of students wearing seat belts.
Students who signed pledge cards were in a drawing to win iPods and laptops.
"The incentives were just part of an overall project to get our teens to buckle up," says Sheriff Sandy Horton. "And it was just actually an important part but it made it fun, it made it rewarding each time that their name was drawn. We were hoping that the pledge cards that they were signing to wear their seatbelts that they were actually doing that."
Southeast High School in Cherokee will be honored for the highest overall percentage of students wearing seatbelts.
Created March 25, 2009 - 6:34PM CST
Last Updated APRIL 14, 2009 - 12:31 PM CST
By LISA OLLIGES
WICHITA, KAN. - A seat belt program that started in Crawford County is winning awards at the the 15th annual Kansas Department of Transportation Safety Conference.
The students who created the SAFE program with Crawford County Sheriff Sandy Horton were honored with a People Saving People Award from the Kansas Department of Transportation.
SAFE stands for 'Seat belts Are For Everyone.'
"The adults, their parents can tell them, but when their friends say 'you're not riding in my car unless you're buckled' or 'I'm not gonna ride with you unless you're buckled,' those are the things that make a difference when you're talking to teen," says Romell Cooks, Regional Administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Cooks says the SAFE program should go statewide and schools in every county should participate.
Students representing six high schools in Crawford County were in Wichita to receive the honors.
Students were also part of a panel at the conference. They discussed surveying student drivers, pledge cards and incentives to get them to wear seatbelts.
Using old tactic to get fellow teens to buckle up
When it comes to wearing seat belts, Crawford County has the worst ranking in the entire state of Kansas.
So students are using an old teenage standby to try and make things work for them.
|Kansas seat belt use||Adults||Children|
Seatbelts Are For Everyone (SAFE)
It's all part of the SAFE program, short for Seatbelts Are For Everyone.
It was named and implemented by 31 students from six Crawford County high schools.
They surveyed students about using seatbelt and asked them to sign pledge cards, with possible prize money rewards.
It turns out that peer pressure is working in a positive sense.
Seat belt use has already improved at all county schools by 8%.
Use at two of the schools has improved 17%.
Pittsburg student says she's proof seat belts save lives
"I was in a wreck and I rolled my car about five times into a ditch in someones yard," says Kendra Prince, a Pittsburg High School. "And it kept me from going through the windshield probably."
But Kendra's classmates needed convincing, so fellow students got involved with SAFE, and started surveying drivers to find out why some don't buckle up.
"Different things like they only have to drive a short distance so they don't want to bother to put it on," says PHS SAFE member, Joanna Liu. "But even if it's a short distance it's still important to wear your seatbelt."
Liu designed the pledge cards students could sign each month to enter a drawing for a $25 Visa card.
"I think we made them think it's fun," Liu says. "It's really easy to do, just sign your name to a card, you can get a prize."
Sheriff Sandy Horton says community donations helped provide the prizes as incentives.
But students say what's more important is that they are getting on board with the effort.
"I think it's just really important to be safe at all times," says Kyle George, another PHS SAFE member. "And if you just get in the habit of doing it, then it's really not a big deal anymore. So I just think it's a really easy precaution we can all take that'll just improve our safety, and it's not even that hard."
After multiple surveys and pledge cards are signed, it's time for the enforcement period to begin.
Last year nearly 60 citations were written. and Sheriff Horton says this years numbers are below that.
Using child-to-adult peer pressure
PHS student Joanna Liu says "the biggest impact is just the peer pressure. People are getting into that activity, everyone's trying to get people to do it. I think that will motivate others to do it as well."
One reason so many kids do not wear seat belts is because they are with parents who do not wear them.
Kyle George says the kids can help change that.
"I think it's important to have action from the bottom level, you know, the younger age people, then we can move up to adults," says George. "If people's kids are doing it then maybe they can help motivate their parents to do so."
While southwest Missouri has a similar program through the alliance, SAFE is the first student led program in southeast Kansas.
The students hope to see the SAFE program expand to other counties.
They will present their findings to a group of more than 30 superintendents Thursday morning at Greenbush.
Sheriff says current primary seatbelt law doesn't make sense
Crawford County Sheriff Sandy Horton says the current primary seatbelt law applies only to those 17 and under.
"Kansas seat belts laws really make little sense," Sheriff Horton says "We're supposed to look into that vehicle and tell the persons age. It's pretty ridiculous."
Both Kansas and Missouri are getting federal grants to improve seatbelt usage.
If Kansas does not pass a primary seatbelt law applying to adults, Kansas Department of Transportation officials say the state will lose $11 million in other federal funds.
KOAM - Licensed to Pittsburg, Kansas