Youth on the Move



Targets hard-to-reach/at risk population
Innovative or non-traditional approach
Increased media visibility


Alcohol and Other Drugs
Occupant Protection














Youthful Drivers



In Dawson County, Nebraska, from 1995 to 1998, motor vehicle crashes involving youth ages 15 to 18 increased 64 percent (from 21 to 33). Disabling injuries and fatalities resulting from these crashes also increased, from 32 in 1995, to 38 in 1998. In addition, Dawson County ranked in last place statewide in observed safety belt use for all ages of motor vehicle occupants. From 1996 to 1998, the county's seat belt use rates were 32.3 percent, 34.9 percent and 40.5 percent, respectively. Occupant protection use was lowest among teens, and youthful drivers were also over-represented in traffic crashes.

In an effort to prevent motor vehicle crash-related deaths and injuries involving Dawson County youth ages 15 to 18, the Nebraska Office of Highway (NOHS) provided grant funding to develop Youth on the Move in 1997. The primary objective of this project is to reduce the number of youth-involved fatal and injury traffic crashes by 10 to 15 percent, by the end of 1999 (from 38 in 1997, to between 32 and 34 in 1999).

The Youth on the Move program was implemented in three schools in Dawson County, during the 1999-2000 school year. It was agreed that the program would be most effective if students were profoundly involved in planning and implementing Youth on the Move activities. Students and staff at each of the three schools received information regarding the dangers of engaging in risk-taking behaviors when driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Guest speakers came to the schools to provide safety presentations, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and NOHS distributed posters and brochures, and drama groups performed skits for various school audiences. In addition, fatal vision goggles were demonstrated and examined by students.

A countywide Safe Communities Coalition of individuals and organizations from each of the three communities was organized. The Coalition committed its efforts to assisting Youth on the Move organizers with the task of meeting their objectives. Coalition members facilitated media coverage of program activities, to help increase public awareness of teen risk-taking behaviors related traffic crash statistics. Activities associated with Youth on the Move include the following:

  • Youth groups in each of the three schools implemented seat belt checks at schools and public events, featuring Vince and Larry®, NHTSA's crash dummies. They also posted signs with safety messages at schools and throughout the community

  • Incentives with safety messages were distributed to students in all three towns before or during special events such as school dances and graduations, identified as high-risk opportunities for alcohol use

  • Volunteers from all three towns provided visual reminders of the consequences of risk- taking behaviors associated with motor vehicles. Before proms, mock crashes were held, or a wrecked car was displayed in the school parking lot

  • Analysis of traffic crash data indicated that teenagers were more likely to use drugs and/or alcohol at post-graduation parties than at a post-prom party. Therefore, two of the high schools held structured drug-free post-graduation parties, sponsored by parents and community businesses and organizations

  • Seven students and three sponsors of youth leadership groups from the three towns attended the national conference of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD), to obtain resources and ideas for activities for the 1999-2000 school year

From June 1998 to June 1999, there were 31 traffic crash injuries and fatalities involving Dawson County youth. There were no fatalities involving any high school students in the three target high school communities, compared to 3 during the 1997-1998 school year. Observed seat belt use in Dawson County increased from 40.5 percent in 1998, to 59.1 percent in 1999. Students and school staff at each participating high school provided positive feedback about the Youth on the Move program.



Section 402:



Kristie Bartlett
Educational Service Unit 10/Cozad Center
1910 Meridian Avenue
Cozad, NE 69130
(308) 784-4525