|HARRISBURG - As more than 350 police departments across 28 counties prepare for a targeted seat belt enforcement effort, PennDOT urges schools to take advantage of free educational programs offered through its highway safety network, according to PennDOT Secretary Allen D. Biehler.|
"Teaching children about safety is one of the most important lessons we can offer," Biehler said. "Safe driving isn't just about buckling up, or refusing to drink and drive, it's about making the right decisions every day -- by choosing to Drive Safe PA."
PennDOT funds the efforts and works closely with its highway safety partners to conduct three educational seat belt programs for students in kindergarten through grade 12. The free programs are available throughout the school year and are presented by one of the more than 1,500 municipal police officers and State Police troopers specially trained in the curriculum.
"The Back Is Where It's At" program is appropriate for kindergarten through grade 5 students and focuses on keeping young children in the back seat, in booster seats, and in seat belts. Children should never be in the front seat where they can be injured by air bags. To ensure a more personalized and interactive experience, this program is designed for small groups.
"Survival 101," which includes a high impact, multi-media component, is geared toward grades 6-12 and emphasizes the importance of making good decisions as passengers and new drivers. During the hard-hitting program, officers share with students the details of their experience with crashes involving teenage drivers and passengers.
The third program, "16 Minutes," is designed for students in grades 9-10 and serves as a supplement to Survival 101. Presented in one-on-one or small group meetings with a police officer, the program should be offered during the month the student turns 16. During the meeting, students and the officer will discuss highway safety issues relevant to teen drivers such as inexperience and driver distraction. In addition, impaired driving, aggressive driving and seat belt use also will be addressed.
Earlier this year, PennDOT launched its Drive Safe PA program. Drive Safe PA urges motorists to always avoid life-threatening driving behaviors like aggressive driving, not wearing seat belts or driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Through Drive Safe PA, PennDOT aims to save at least 100 more lives each year on Pennsylvania roads, with the goal of reducing fatalities to 1,150 or less by 2011.
To request one of the seat belt programs, please visit www.buckleuppa.org. For more information about Drive Safe PA or what you can do to help spread the word about safe driving, contact the PennDOT press office at RAfirstname.lastname@example.org.