FREMONT – The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) is continuing efforts to educate youth on safe driving.
In conjunction with partners at the Nebraska Department of Transportation, troopers throughout Nebraska have conducted 60 safety presentations from July through September. The focus of many of those presentations was seat belts and teen drivers. Public Relations Officer with NSP, Cody Thomas says their officers go to schools, football games, and even businesses to give their safety presentations.
“We have Community Service Officers spread throughout the state. And they do the Friday Night Lights Football games, but they also go into classrooms. They’ll even speak to private businesses, and they’ll go to community events, too,” said Thomas. “So there will be a variety of areas where we take out our Seat Belt Convincer, and the Rollover Simulator and those things to really reinforce the safety aspect of driving.”
From July to September, the officers have reached an estimated 97,000 people with their message that seat belts save lives. According to the Nebraska Strategic Highway Safety Plan, teen drivers represent the highest number of fatalities where no seat belt was involved. Thomas says it’s important to show young drivers the importance of wearing their seat belt.
“With beginning drivers we see some of the highest rates of not wearing a seat belt. And that’s especially true when we talk about young male drivers,” said Thomas. “That’s an age group that we’re really trying to hit hard with the safety education. That’s why going to the high schools makes a big difference, because the sooner you can put a demonstration of how important a seat belt is in front of a young driver, the more impactful that message can be going throughout their life.”
Thomas adds another safety issue they want to stress with young drivers is distracted driving.
“One of the big things that we need to hammer home at the same time is distracted driving. There seems to be more opportunities for distracted driving today with cellphones and things like that,” said Thomas. “Especially as new drivers often have cellphones already. We need to make sure that they are putting that phone down while they are driving and focus on driving. It’s such an important thing to do to eliminate distracted driving at the same time as wearing your seat belt. That really goes a long way to making a safe trip.”
From October through December, NSP will continue their education efforts utilizing grant funding from the Nebraska Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office. Anyone interested in scheduling a safety presentation can visit the Community Policing/Safety Programs page of the NSP website for more information.