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Back to Archives | Back to October 2005 Contents 

Highway Safety Initiatives

Highway Safety Initiatives: Best Ideas in Traffic Safety

By Joel Bolton, Lieutenant, Lake Charles, Louisiana, Police Department

inding new ideas to improve your traffic safety programs just got a lot easier. The IACP has compiled 50 of the best initiatives from this year's IACP National Law Enforcement Challenge.

Identifying the Best in Traffic Safety
A fun and friendly competition, the IACP National Law Enforcement Challenge allows agencies of all types and sizes to showcase their efforts to increase safety belt use, reduce impaired driving, and manage speed in their communities. The challenge looks at public information and education work, officer training, policy guidance, enforcement, and results to determine the winners, who stand a chance to win great prizes.

Each year, the judges comb the applications for ideas that other departments can replicate. The best are compiled and shared as the Nifty Fifty, a publication available on the Web at

Many of the programs are new, innovative, and creative ways to improve traffic safety. Others are old ideas that work well, perhaps with a new twist thrown in. All are programs that have been proven by your colleagues to work in their communities, and are worthy of consideration for your jurisdiction.

Highlights include the Washington State Patrol's program to evaluate district- and division-level performance and the Buffalo Grove, Illinois, Police Department's program to promote bicycle helmet use by recognizing cyclists who survived crashes or falls because of their safety equipment.

Seat Belts
If you're searching for ways to reach young drivers with your traffic safety message, the Nifty Fifty has some interesting programs for you to consider. In Brooklyn Heights, Ohio, police provide soft drinks to teen drivers that are buckled up, but give written warnings and a penny for luck to those who aren't. Raising awareness of traffic safety among students in Lemont, Illinois, involved having German language classes research differences between U.S. and German traffic laws and having physics classes study crash dynamics and impact forces.

Crystal Lake, Illinois, police took partnership with their local high school to a new level. To promote safe driving and increase safety belt, students who did not have moving violations or seat belt citations were qualified for a drawing for a new 2005 Pontiac.

Impaired Driving
There are also some great ideas in the Nifty Fifty to reduce the toll of impaired driving crashes. Martin, Tennessee, police helped prevent New Year's Eve tragedies caused by alcohol and promoted designated driver programs by using a surplus military bus to provide safe transportation for partygoers.

Juvenile DUI offenders in Dover, Tennessee, get a dose of reality from local judges when they are sentenced to attend four-day classes that require offenders to use wheelchairs, wear adult diapers, and feed and care for each other as though they had been seriously injured and incapacitated by a crash. They also pay a visit to funeral home as part of the class.

The Nifty Fifty also contains several ideas for speed management programs. A local ordinance was adopted in Stafford County, Virginia, that allows roadways with a documented speeding problem to be designated as fine enhanced zones. The roadways are marked with special signs and selective enforcement is conducted in those areas to better control the problem. The Burlington, Vermont, Police Department enlists concerned citizens to assist with speed monitoring in their neighborhoods. Citizens are provided training and surplus radar equipment to report problems and increase awareness. To combat street racing, a video was developed by the Colorado Springs, Colorado, Police Department to educate high school students about the dangers of speed.

Pedestrian Safety
Among the many other great program ideas you can replicate in your jurisdiction is the pedestrian safety program of the Moreno Valley, California, Police Department. During the holiday period, officers dress as Santa Claus and work crosswalks near schools. Motorists who yield to Santa are rewarded with gift certificates from local businesses and those who don't yield are ticketed.

Pick what would help address problems in your jurisdiction from the programs that have worked for others. Making it work for you-and saving lives on your streets and highways -could be the key to your own winning entry in next year's IACP National Law Enforcement Challenge.



From The Police Chief, vol. 72, no. 10, October 2005. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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