Ever since my ds started Kindergarten at his elementary school, I’ve noticed car seat use isn’t a priority for most parents. I’ve been known to stare in vehicles as they drive by when I see kids properly buckled/boostered/harnessed in the back seat and I’m sure that’s earned me the reputation as the crazy lady who stares at everyone’s cars. But it’s just so rare! I’m sure those of you with kids in school know what I mean. I mentioned this to my Safe Kids director and this year she needed a project for Halloween and she decided to work on my kids’ school. “Buckle Up with Boo” was born.
Boo was a friendly ghost who helped our Safe Kids team stop traffic in the hour leading up to the first bell (we ended 10 minutes before the bell so as not to make any kids late to school-that would be bad PR, you know). It was a quick 10 second stop to lean into the vehicle window and assess how the child was buckled. If she was buckled, she got a buck (it was part of our Buck for a Buckle grant) and an entry ticket for an iPod Shuffle. If she was in the front seat, she, and the parent, got a quick lecture about the airbag and how much safer it is in the back seat. Also, depending on the size of the child, boosters were mentioned. Really, traffic flowed very smoothly and there were very few gripes (the gripers were the ones who didn’t have their kids buckled safely). Boo also visited all the Kindergartners and gave Halloween safety tips and more booster seat tips.
I followed up with an informative handout to every child in the school about airbags, since we discovered *so* many kids riding in the front seat. Booster education was also on the handout and we scheduled a surprise follow-up event a few weeks later. I don’t know if the parents didn’t read the handout or if the education didn’t sink in or they hadn’t been hit hard enough (aka nagged enough). The numbers just didn’t bear out that much of an improvement in seat belt use, though really, if one life is saved that wouldn’t otherwise be because of the education, we’ve done our job.
Another handout went home, another event was scheduled. This was our last because we were already risking wearing out our welcome at the school. As a community service group, we still have to maintain a positive presence. This time we included the public information officer from the highway patrol. He’s highly visible on the news and would help us contain the people blowing through our stop sign (can you believe it???). For some reason, it all clicked this time. Parents weren’t any happier to see us, lol, but many more of their kids were safely buckled in the back seat and getting their bucks and raffle tickets for the iPod. Third time’s the charm 🙂 .
I still see lots of kids not buckled at all. Just last Friday, I saw a car come flying into the parking lot-too fast for the school zone speed limit-with both little girls in the back seat hanging off the front seat head restraint spindles. Why? Seriously, how can you drive if your kid is pulling on your hair, hanging off your head restraint? <shaking head> When will people learn?
I’ll see what I can do for you, Elaine.
Murphy, could I get a copy of the handout? It’s discouraging to hear that you didn’t see much change after sending home the handouts, but I think I ought to give it a try at my DDs’ school after yesterday’s experience of driving for a field trip and seeing that maybe about half the kids in my dd’s first grade classes aren’t using boosters any more.
I’m curious at such an extreme difference between guys and girls, too.
But more on topic, I hate seeing kids not buckled or less safe simply for the purpose of drop-off.
When I had to drop of my kids due to running too late to catch the school bus and they were still using the Regent, they didn’t take any longer getting out of the car than they did when they were both in boosters, or now with one in a booster and the other in just a seatbelt.
school age kids almost always can AND do unbuckle themselves when taught and prompted.
For those who can’t and or won’t (and let’s face it, when it’s our youngest child, sometimes it’s us (ME) preferring it that way), ensuring they are put in the seating position that allows the parent or a sibling to unbuckle them is a simple and easy solution.
And for pickup… for the love of all that is safe, it does NOT take much to take a few extra minutes to park, pick up your kids, walk them to the car, and get everyone buckled until it’s as quick as everyone snapping a seatbelt closed (booster or no booster).
Still, I’ve noticed (happily) at our school, kids are sent to cars even if the line hasn’t moved yet, so there is no hurry and no reason not to buckle a child immediately.
I wish all schools could be that safety-conscious.
I’m not sure why the males were more likely to be buckled; it certainly would be interesting to have been able to sample the entire school and understand why. Are they less likely to carpool with others, so they’re used to buckling up all the time? Are girls more likely to hop in friends’ parents’ cars who may be more lax about seat belts? Do they then lose the habit of buckling? There are so many questions that you can’t ask in 10 seconds.
The notes home just don’t seem to reach most parents. It’s the mandatory, make ’em stop checkpoints that they aren’t expecting that really educates and changes attitudes. When done properly, they work.
I’ve been waiting for this blog entry! I need to try something similar. The note in the monthly newsletter did NO good at all!!
Unfortunately, many learn when it is too late. I ran a check up event at my son’s school – out of all the parents there, I only had three people make an appointment – 2 of them were teachers. I had to put my blinkers on when I drop me son off….and just hope for the best for these families.
Interesting statistics that the males started out the first 2 times being higher than the females.