For the third consecutive year, the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE) Prevention & Early Intervention Department has been awarded a $170,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) for a year-long, countywide project to increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety for middle school students.
The goal of the safety project is to help middle school youth develop attitudes that support lifelong traffic safety values and to build a foundation for making safe decisions when they become teen drivers. SCOE—in partnership with the Safety Center Incorporated, UC Davis Medical Center’s Trauma Prevention and Outreach Program, and other community partners—will use the funding as part of an ongoing effort with the OTS to increase bicycle helmet compliance for youth, ages 5 to 18. The goal is to reduce the number of young bicyclists and pedestrians injured or killed in traffic collisions.
“Many of our county’s students ride their bikes to school, so they and their families need to be reminded about bike safety,” said Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon. “This program is a great opportunity to reinforce potentially lifesaving bike safety messages to our students and their families.”
Middle school students are at particularly high risk of being involved in pedestrian and bicycle crashes that result in injury or fatality. According to National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) statistics, in 2015 more than one-fifth (21%) of children 14 and younger killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians. Children 10 to 14 years old had the highest percentages of estimated pedestrians injured (7%) among the different age categories. Children 14 and younger accounted for 5% of all bicyclist killed and 12 percent of those injured in traffic crashes in 2015.
SCOE—in partnership with UC Davis—surveyed middle school students to collect data on why helmet use is low for their age group and what young people suggest the program can do to increase that number. Ideas generated by students will assist SCOE and its partners in creating effective projects and programs for this age group.
SCOE and Safety Center Incorporated will again partner with the UC Berkeley Safe Transportation Research & Education Center (SafeTREC) in an area of high bicycle and pedestrian collisions to implement a pedestrian safety study. The study will collect data to improve local pedestrian safety, build capacity of community partners, and create safer, more walkable communities.
This grant will provide opportunities to help create a culture of traffic safety within the middle school population, their families, and their communities. The funding comes from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The program includes classroom education, bicycle rodeos, community events, presentations and workshops, as well as providing bicycle helmets, including proper use and fitting, for students and families in need.