7.1 School-Based Programs
Schools provide well-defined and somewhat controlled audiences for seat belt use programs. Education and other communications strategies can be tailored to a specific audience. While these programs are often well received in the community, there is limited information on their effectiveness.
Use: There are no data on the number of school-based programs operating currently.
Effectiveness: School programs have been shown to increase seat belt use in the few evaluations of school programs that have been conducted. The “Make It Click” program was developed in Virginia to address low seat belt use among children 8 to 12 in an economically disadvantaged urban school district (Will & Dunaway, 2017). Children, parents, and teachers were educated about proper seat belt use with activities throughout one school year. Children participated in a creativity contest, a safety-themed play, a buckle-challenge competition, afterschool programs, classroom assignments, and morning announcements. Parents were provided with flyers and presentations, while teachers received regular newsletters to keep them informed about the program. The program resulted in significantly higher observed seat belt use rates at intervention schools (32% before the program versus 68% after). During a follow-up period 4 months after the program, students at the intervention school were 3.3 times more likely to be observed wearing seat belts than students at the control schools.
Similar improvements were observed in a pilot program to increase restraint use and rear seating position among elementary schools and day care centers (Williams et al., 1997). The programs, held in conjunction with an ongoing statewide Click It or Ticket program, included letters and pamphlets sent to parents, proper restraint use demonstrations, assemblies emphasizing proper restraint use (at the schools), and enforcement checkpoints. Proper use increased substantially at elementary schools (36% to 64%; 49% to 71%) with smaller increases at the daycare centers (71% to 76%; 60% to 75%). The researchers concluded also that enforcement is a key ingredient of programs even among school-aged children. The smaller increase in use could also be an artifact of the daycare center having younger kids who are traditionally more likely to be restrained than elementary-aged kids.
See Section 6.1 Communications and Outreach Strategies for Older Children for additional information about programs targeting school-aged children.
Costs: Program costs will depend on the size of the target audience and the components of the program.
Time to implement: School policies can be implemented immediately. Complete programs will require at least 4 months to plan and implement and may require a full year.