High School Traffic Challenge: Don't be a dummy!! Buckle up Kadets!The DRIVE SMART Colorado Springs High School Traffic Safety Challenge, a nationally recognized, award-winning, grass-roots community traffic safety program to reduce traffic accidents, injuries, and deaths, has announced the winners in its seven-week challenge to promote safe driving habits. The campaign ran from late October through early December 2011, and received entries from 21 area schools.

Founded in 1990, DRIVE SMART Colorado Springs invites students in Teller and El Paso counties to create safety campaigns that address driving safety, covering such topics as traffic laws, the use of seat belts, and the dangers of distracted driving. Teams of students who enter the contest choose how to convey their messages, whether by producing public service announcements for radio and TV, writing plays, presenting car crash rescue simulations, or inviting speakers to their schools. The students are helped by representatives of local businesses, government, hospitals, law enforcement and the military.

In one example of a contest entrant’s initiative, as Nora Drenner writes on WetMountainTribune.com, the town of Westcliffe approved a request by Donna Squire of DRIVE SMART to place metal brackets on historic lamp posts on the town’s Main Street to hold banners four times a year encouraging people to use seatbelts.

According to a DRIVE SMART press release:

First place teams received ‘DRIVE SMART CHALLENGE 2011 CHAMPION’ banners to hang in their schools. A total of $1,950 in prizes also were awarded to the winning teams. All of the participating teams received custom banners reminding everyone to drive safely.

The winners, chosen from the 21,000 students and teachers who participated in the contest, are:

Most Improved Buckle-Up Rate
1st Place: Fountain-Fort Carson High School and Tesla Learning Center
2nd Place: Palmer High School and Bijou School

Best Distracted Driving Theme
1st Place: Coronado High School and Peyton High School
2nd Place: Harrison High School and James Irwin Charter School

Best Overall Campaign
1st Place: Woodland Park High School and Manitou Springs High School
2nd Place: Mesa Ridge High School and Edison School

Other Prizes
Best Notebook: Woodland Park High School
Best DRIVE SMART short video: Mesa Ridge High School
McDivitt Law Firm Video Contest: Manitou Springs High School

In the DRIVE SMART press release, Executive Director of DRIVE SMART COLORADO Maile Gray says:

We know the DRIVE SMART challenge has had a major impact on our teens. Besides having one of the top buckle-up rates for Colorado teens, these kids look forward to this campaign each year. It thrills me to know these students are so involved and taking this program so seriously all while having fun.

To become a sponsor or volunteer for DRIVE SMART, call Maile Gray, Executive Director of DRIVE SMART Colorado, at 719-444-7534, or attend a DRIVE SMART Steering Committee meeting on the second Tuesday of each month. Meetings are held at 10 a.m. at the Gold Hill Police Department substation located at 955 W. Moreno Avenue in Colorado Springs.

Image by Drive Smart Colorado Springs, used under Fair Use: Reporting.