Monday, September 22, 2014

Ottawa High School boasts 90-percent seat-belt use; earns kudos from police

By The Herald Staff | 5/2/2014

Ottawa High School students are wearing their seat belts 90 percent of the time.

Dennis Butler, Ottawa police chief, talked about the marked improvement in seat-belt use among OHS students during an assembly Friday morning at the high school, 1120 S. Ash St., Ottawa.

Ottawa High School students are wearing their seat belts 90 percent of the time.

Dennis Butler, Ottawa police chief, talked about the marked improvement in seat-belt use among OHS students during an assembly Friday morning at the high school, 1120 S. Ash St., Ottawa.

Seat-belt use by OHS students and their passengers was measured at 90.3 percent in a recent survey of school parking lot traffic. A fall survey showed 85 percent of OHS students were buckling up, for a 5.3-percent increase during the school year, according to a police department news release.

The 90.3 percent use is nearly 30 percent higher than the 61 percent figure logged in the initial survey taken three years ago at OHS, Butler said.

The initiative to get more students to wear their seat belts is part of the Seatbelts Are For Everyone program. Laura Moore, state SAFE coordinator with the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office, also was on hand for the assembly, which included awarding prizes to students.

OHS senior Brandon Church won a mini iPad in the school-wide general drawing. Students entered in the drawing had submitted signed pledge cards throughout the year promising to wear their seat belts.

The second drawing involved four students, one representative from each grade, who were nominated by the school’s student SAFE Team to win a second mini iPad for emulating the goals of SAFE to their classmates, the news release said. The nominees were freshman Donovan Perry, sophomore Sara Ward, junior Kylie Foster and senior Nathan Roth, with Foster winning the drawing.

The Ottawa Police Foundation and the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office funded the majority of the seat-belt initiative during the past three years, the release said. Because of the program’s success at the high school, Ryan Cobbs, OHS principal, has authorized the SAFE initiative to continue for the 2014-2015 school year, police chief Butler said.

“This is the most successful safety or crime prevention initiative I have ever been associated with,” Butler said. “I have never seen such dramatic and positive results in such a brief period demonstrated by the SAFE program. The fact that it is student-led is why I believe this has been so successful.”

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