Cruise control

Children’s Health Education Center has long been known for its health and safety programs for children, parents, caregivers and teachers. But did you know that CHEC also has been a leader in child passenger safety? We support many motor vehicle safety programs and partnerships, including one with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Last year, 589 people were killed on Wisconsin roads. Incredibly, that’s the fewest number of traffic deaths since 1944 and 20 percent lower than 2007, according to WIDOT.

What can we attribute this to? WIDOT thinks the reduction is, in part, because of the record-high gas prices and other seasonal factors. But they also credit the efforts of law enforcement officers, emergency medical service responders and motor vehicle safety advocates like CHEC.

Sadly though, car crashes still kill more teens than any other cause.

In fact, according to data collected by Children’s Hospital, 70 percent of teens killed in car accidents last year were not wearing seatbelts. This is an issue we can do something about.
 Last year, CHEC launched Cruise Control, a teen driving safety program. It encourages teens to take control behind the wheel by creating a driving safety program for their school.

In November, Cruise Control awarded students from seven schools across the state mini-grants to develop driving safety programs. Schools were chosen based on a variety of criteria, including community need and how projects address the issues of driver distractions, seat belt usage and risky behaviors such as alcohol and speeding.

Check out last year’s projects. The results were amazing. Because these teens understand their peers’ driving issues first hand, they offer a unique perspective on the solutions. They also have incredible power to implement these changes in their communities. We’re thrilled with the program’s results so far and are eager to reach out to more Wisconsin teens to take on the project in their schools. To learn more about the Cruise Control program, you can e-mail me at DLiska@chw.org.

–Deena Liska, motor vehicle safety educator

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