GEORGIA
Safe Communities of Richmond County

 

PROJECT CHARACTERISTICS PROGRAM AREA(S)
  Outstanding collaborative effort
Innovative or non-traditional approach
  Safe Communities
       
TYPE OF JURISDICTION    
  County    
       
TARGETED POPULATION(S) JURISDICTION SIZE
  General Population   200,000


PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION
Richmond County, Georgia reports some of the state's highest numbers of motor vehicle crashes and crash-related fatalities and injuries. Crash-related injuries also account for the largest health care expense in the county, averaging $76 million each year. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading causes of death to drivers and passengers ages 10 to 19. Aggressive driving is the leading cause of crashes, and accounts for more than half of the crash-related injuries. Data indicate that 82 percent of motorists fatally injured in traffic crashes were not using safety restraints, and 26 percent of passengers involved were unrestrained. Richmond County also reports one of the highest alcohol-related crash fatality rates in the state. Local traffic safety officials believed that a root cause for these alarming statistics was the lack of public awareness of the severity of the county's traffic safety issues, and their significant impact on the community.


GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
To address the serious traffic safety problems in Richmond County, the Richmond County Board of Health initiated the Safe Communities of Richmond County project in 1998. Its primary goal was to reduce crash-related fatalities and injuries, through the following objectives:

  • Increasing traffic safety education to the community
  • Identifying and publicizing high risk locations and populations
  • Promoting traffic safety through aggressive media coverage of events and programs
  • Forming partnerships between law enforcement officials and other traffic safety advocates


STRATEGIES AND ACTIVITIES
The County Board of Health created Safe Communities of Richmond County, led by 45 Safe Communities Coalition members. Coalition members included representatives of businesses, doctors, nurses, emergency medical personnel, traffic engineers, enforcement personnel, individual concerned citizens and other traffic safety advocates. The following traffic safety activities were incorporated into the Safe Communities of Richmond County program:

  • Coalition members developed television and radio public service announcements (PSA's) to promote Safe Communities programs and educate the public about traffic safety
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software was used to map all crash locations, thereby identifying high risk areas
  • Operation Safety Net was developed by the Coalition, to allow law enforcement to use GIS data to develop effective enforcement activities at problem locations. In addition to conducting Driving Under the Influence (DUI) checkpoints, red light patrols, speed checkpoints, and other enforcement activities, traffic safety engineers installed a median strip at one of the problem locations detected by the GIS data
  • Surveys and studies were conducted to identify high risk groups
  • The Coalition developed four lesson plans for use by volunteer educators in teaching local high school students about the dangers of aggressive driving


RESULTS
Since the initiation of the Safe Communities of Richmond County effort, the issue of traffic safety has grown in importance in the community, and the Safe Communities Coalition's efforts have produced significant results:

  • More than 100 speaking engagements provided by Coalition members at community meetings and health exhibits have reached thousands of Georgia residents
  • Operation Safety Net activities have resulted in a 18 percent increase in traffic citations
  • High school students attending traffic safety classes increased their knowledge of risky driving behavior from 49 percent in 1997 to 89 percent in 1999
  • Motor vehicle injuries have decreased by 30 percent from 1997
 

FUNDING
  Section 402:
$80,000
CONTACT  
 

Priscilla Bence, RN, MPH
Safe Communities Coordinator
Richmond County Board of Health
1916 North Leg Road
Augusta, GA 30909
(706) 6674691



NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION

SUMMER 2000