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Traffic Safety Digest
digest edition is Summer 2001
Sedgwick County Safe Communities Coalition

Outstanding collaborative effort
Safe Communities
General Population

Injury remains the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 34, and motor vehicle crashes are the primary basis for injury in this age group. Data also indicate that teen drivers are involved in traffic crashes at a rate four times greater than adults. Traffic safety advocates have determined that interventions designed to either prevent crashes or decrease the severity of injuries when crashes occur have the greatest potential for improving these alarming statistics.

In 1998, injuries in Sedgwick County, Kansas accounted for more than 55,000 emergency room visits. Many of these injuries resulted from motor vehicle crashes involving teen drivers ages 15 to 19, with the majority occurring on Friday afternoon, from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm, with no apparent adverse weather or road conditions. Injuries resulting from improper use of child safety seats were also a concern in Sedgwick County. A countywide survey conducted in 1999 revealed a safety seat misuse rate of 98.2 percent.

The Sedgwick County Safe Communities Coalition was developed in 1999 in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Transportation, to help analyze and define injuries occurring within the county, and identify high risk populations. Objectives of the program are to:

  • Develop a process by which Sedgwick County residents can actively participate in the process of problem identification, and assume responsibility for outlining solutions
  • Design, implement and evaluate distinctive motor vehicle-related injury prevention interventions
  • Characterize the current perception of fatal and non-fatal injuries in Sedgwick County

The Sedgwick County Safe Communities Coalition focused their efforts on developing intervention strategies targeting two important issues, teen driving and child passenger safety. The coalition created two intervention programs addressing high-risk teen driving behaviors, and a child passenger safety initiative. Specific activities associated with these programs include:

  • Wichita on Wheels—This pilot program was implemented in October 1999 to evaluate and influence teen driving behaviors at a local high school with an enrollment of 1,559 students. Program activities included observational seat belt use surveys, written pre- and post-program tests, a Think First program assembly featuring information booths with displays and educational materials, and a roll-over simulation machine
  • Autobond 2000—This two-hour traffic safety program was presented to 2,500 Sedgwick County sophomores from 13 high schools in October 2000. Activities included a mock crash and emergency response, Think First program presentation, roll-over simulation demonstration, testimonial by a mother whose son was killed in a motor vehicle crash and a follow-up evaluation
  • Child Passenger Safety Program—In partnership with the Wichita Area SAFE KIDS Coalition, the Sedgwick County Safe Communities Coalition provided more than 2,000 child safety seat inspections between January 1997 and September 2000. Two permanent fitting stations were established, and educational classes are offered each month in Wichita. A child passenger safety hotline was also created to allow residents to call for a "Personal Fit" appointment, or to determine the closest checkpoint location. A car seat loaner program was developed to provide safe transportation for children in hipspica casts, low birth weight infants and other children with special needs.

By encouraging community residents to become involved in developing relevant and effective traffic safety programs, the Sedgwick County Safe Communities Coalition has grown to more than 130 local and state members. Coalition members include area hospitals, clinics, physicians, the Sedgwick County Health Department, vehicle dealerships and other local businesses.

The Wichita on Wheels program resulted in a 7 percent increase in seat belt use for the 15 to 19 year old target audience. This increase was sustained at a six-month follow-up survey.

Using the data linkage process, the Coalition has also created an accurate, descriptive picture of injuries in Sedgwick County.


Section 402: $74,040
Ronda Luck, Project Director
Sedgwick County Safe Communities
Via Christi Medical Center
929 North Saint Francis
Wichita, KS 67214
(316) 268-5245

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Summer 2001
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