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Insight from WFPD: "Click it Quick" contest may be over, but the campaign goes on

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"Click it or Ticket." This popular national campaign aimed at increasing the use of seat belts developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been taken to another level by the North Dakota Department of Transportation and other agencies.

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In fall 2009, NDDOT developed a campaign that would make young people, ages 15-24 years old, the center of attention. Even though this population only makes up 14 percent of licensed drivers, they make up 27 percent of people involved in crashes.

The campaign has now been transformed into a contest "Click it Quick" and expanded its original intent. In the beginning, "Click it Quick" was designed to spread the word about being a safe North Dakota teen driver. While still focusing on the importance of seat belt use, this campaign also has expanded its goal to exposing the hazards of underage drinking and driving, texting while driving as well as an overall reminder of the general rules of the road.

The contest was aimed at high school students giving them the opportunity to participate in projects and activities that would earn their school points. The high school with the most points by the middle of March received an entertaining night of activities, including a concert by Fully Loaded. Even though the contest was not locally won, teens in the West Fargo schools took part in numerous activities where they were presented with powerful tools that made them safer drivers.

One of the first activities was a guest speaker sponsored by the West Fargo Exchange Club. Cara Johnston-Filler spoke with high school students about her devastating experience losing her sister in a 1994 car crash. Johnston-Filler discussed reckless driving and how the choices we make while driving not only affect our lives, but also the lives of those around us.

In partnership with West Fargo High School principal, Gary Clark, a video was shown to high school students regarding texting while driving. This topic is becoming more and more of a problem with young drivers. In the video, a young man shares his story. Two lives were lost in an accident caused by his lack of attention to the road while texting and driving. Even though this young man walked away from the accident physically unharmed, it was an experience that will forever emotionally haunt him.

The family of those lost in the accident also spoke in the video regarding how they have had to deal with this young man's error in judgment every day. The video also addressed the criminal element of texting while driving and the punishment this young man has had to endure.

The West Fargo High School DECA Club under the leadership of Jenna Skaff played a vital role in the success of the "Click in Quick" campaign and contest. Various students in DECA read announcements concerning safe driving called Traffic Tip Thursday, students also handed out window clings with the "Click it Quick" logo. DECA students wrote letters to local businesses explaining the contest and soliciting donations and coupons to use as rewards for students participating actively in the campaign and contest. On one particular afternoon DECA students waited at the exits of the high school parking lot and rewarded students in vehicles where seat belts were in use with various donations such as coupons from local businesses.

High School students were constantly aware of the theme of the campaign. Teachers posted signs in their classrooms reminding students how to be safe drivers. The school's electric billboard displayed messages about buckling seat belts prompting students to take action and have better judgment on the roadway.

A recent survey by the Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute has shown that our local high school students are using their seat belts more than other high school students throughout the state. Safe driving and seat belt use cannot end with this contest, however; the message must continue.

In 2008, there were 295 crashes with the driver and/or occupant completely ejected. In more than half of these crashes, the individuals involved were not wearing their seat belts. We, as a concerned and caring community, must continue to remind our young drivers to use good judgment including seat belt use, while driving on our roads.

The contest has ended, but the campaign must carry on.

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