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Insight from WFPD: Partnerships expand youth traffic safety efforts
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opinion Fargo, 58102
Fargo North Dakota 101 5th Street North 58102

The West Fargo Police Department utilizes many partnerships to provide traffic safety programs for youth, allowing the department to expand its reach and offer more resources to the community. Some of these partners include the Safe Communities Coalition of the Red River Valley, the North Dakota Department of Health, the North Dakota Department of Transportation, Monsanto, Stop 'N Go Stores and Dairy Queen.

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As members of the Safe Communities Coalition, the police department receives traffic safety services and resources for the community. In February and March, 1,322 students at seven West Fargo elementary schools received traffic safety education. The 'Buckle Up with Bucky' program includes an interactive presentation, video, story and singalong song designed to answer who, what, when, where and how of passenger safety. Children have fun while learning that everyone should buckle up every time they ride in a vehicle. They also learn and practice the proper use of a seat belt. Students are taught important safety recommendations including sitting in the backseat until they're 13 years old and using a booster seat until they're 4'9" tall and 80 pounds. To reinforce the presentation's teaching points, each student received an activity book from the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDOH). For parents, the activity book contains North Dakota's child passenger safety law and other essential safety standards. Each classroom received a mascot from NDDOH to remind them to buckle up in the backseat.

Among its many programs, the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) launched a teen driver contest and Web site this past fall. With the guidance of School Resource Officers Todd Pearson and Jason Balvik, West Fargo High School and Sheyenne 9th Grade Center competed in the contest, participating in a number of activities including presentations on various traffic safety topics, a news conference, online quizzes, displayed posters, and handed out incentives. The contest ended March 1, and although the schools didn't win, the students gained valuable knowledge on safe driving. To learn more about the contest and safe teen driving, visit www.ndteendrivers.com.

A successful seat belt campaign conducted at area schools last year is slated for this spring. Thanks to police department partners Monsanto, Stop 'N Go Stores, and Dairy Queen, buckling up became very appealing to area students. Police officers stationed at pre-school and school parking lot entrances doled out rewards to students 'caught' buckled up. Students received a gift card to Stop 'N Go Stores or the West Fargo Dairy Queen. In addition to funding a portion of the gift cards, Monsanto sponsored a program for students at the Sheyenne 9th Grade Center. To emphasize the lifesaving capabilities of seat belts, 'rollover simulator' demonstrations were given by Lt. Duane Sall. A rollover simulator is a rotating pickup cab that simulates a rollover-type vehicle crash. Dummies are placed inside the vehicle to simulate the effects of seat belt use and nonuse. When the dummies are buckled, they stay safely in place, but when they are unbuckled, they are ejected from the vehicle.

The West Fargo Police Department deploys a myriad of methods, tools, and partnerships to achieve its traffic safety goals. For youth-oriented goals, partnerships are beneficial because they increase the number of students reached and the amount of resources available. If your business or organization is interested in becoming a traffic safety partner, contact Lt. Duane Sall at 701-433-5500.

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