Saturday, September 20, 2014

Students log seat belt safety success at OHS

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 11/20/2012

Ottawa High School students did a better job of buckling up this fall than in 2011, but more work needs to be done, Dennis Butler told the student body Tuesday afternoon during an assembly at the school.

Butler, Ottawa police chief, said a survey of students pulling into the school parking lot showed seat-belt use among drivers and passengers was at 78 percent, up markedly from last fall’s survey results of 61 percent.

Ottawa High School students did a better job of buckling up this fall than in 2011, but more work needs to be done, Dennis Butler told the student body Tuesday afternoon during an assembly at the school.

Butler, Ottawa police chief, said a survey of students pulling into the school parking lot showed seat-belt use among drivers and passengers was at 78 percent, up markedly from last fall’s survey results of 61 percent.

The Seatbelts are for Everyone (SAFE) initiative, which is in its second year, is spearheaded by the police department and student members of the school’s SAFE committee.

Frankie Hernandez, an OHS junior and one of the student organizers, told fellow students that their seat-belt retention rate from last spring to this fall was good. The 2012 spring survey showed 81 percent of students were using their seat belts, slightly above the fall 2012 survey of 78 percent.

While a seat-belt rate of nearly 80 percent is good, Butler said, it’s not 100 percent.

“Our goal is to have 100 percent of students using their seat belts,” Butler said.

A second survey will be taken in spring 2013 to measure the campaign’s success rate for the 2012-2013 school year. Last school year, seat-belt use increased 20 percent from the fall to spring surveys. Organizers are hopeful for similar results this year.

OHS students who signed a pledge card Tuesday to wear their seat belts were entered into a drawing to win prizes.

Butler gave away four $25 Visa gift cards in the kick-off drawing for this school year’s program. The cards were provided by the Ottawa Police Foundation.

Monthly drawings will take place throughout the school year for prizes. Any OHS student driver stopped by a patrol officer for not wearing a seat belt is not eligible for the next month’s drawing, Butler said.

Some of the monthly drawings will take place during OHS basketball games this winter, the chief said.

Last school year, the Ottawa Police Foundation provided an iPad to be given away as the grand prize of the year-long campaign.

This year, the foundation is providing two iPads, Butler told the packed gymnasium of cheering students.

One iPad will be given away during a random grand-prize drawing at the final SAFE assembly in the spring, while the second iPad will be given to a student nominated by the SAFE committee who embraces, practices and promotes driver safety to other students.

Butler said after the assembly he was pleased with the students’ response to the program.

The assembly ended with an activity in which teams of students and staff members had to ride small bicycles while texting and dodging volleyballs being rolled in their paths to demonstrate the distractions drivers face on the roadways.

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