A student-led campaign to increase the use of seatbelts and decrease distracted driving has created safer driving practices among students at Spanish Springs High School. Students at the C3Media Academy gathered preliminary data, created a public service campaign to promote safe driving practices, and conducted follow-up research to determine the campaign's effectiveness among the school population.
Students began their project in early November by observing whether student drivers and passengers were using seatbelts as they left the parking lot after school. They determined that 88.2 percent of drivers wore their seatbelts, and 84.9 percent of front seat passengers used their seatbelts. The teams then produced a series of public service announcements promoting safe driving practices that aired on the student-run internal television station for three weeks.
After the series of announcements aired, students gathered more data and determined that the number of student drivers using seatbelts had jumped to 94.3 percent—a rise of more than six percentage points. The number of front seat passengers using seatbelts rose to 86.7 percent, an increase of nearly two percentage points.
"What's unique about this program is that it is school-based, peer-to-peer seatbelt and distracted driving education," said Debbie Melahn, director of community education for the Washoe County School District. "The program allows students to develop innovative, targeted interventions that rely primarily on positive peer influence and reinforcement to encourage teenage seatbelt compliance and discourage distracted driving."
"Distracted driving is a particular problem for teenagers given their high use of electronic equipment and frequent travel with peer passengers, which escalate crash risk," said Masha Wilson of the Nevada Department of Public Safety. "This program acknowledges that teens must be part of the solution for an issue that so directly affects them."
Funding for this program was provided in part by the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety. Similar programs are currently underway among students at Reno High School and Damonte Ranch High School.
From Washoe County School District