As many of you know, I am the community outreach and media relations officer for the California Highway Patrol. In this position, I travel throughout the San Joaquin Valley to inform the public about the various education programs and services the CHP has to offer. With the start of the 2018-19 school year, here is an overview of our community outreach opportunities we have specifically available for school-age children. If there is a program you would like us to present at your school, business, volunteer organization, church, Lion’s Club, Rotary Club, etc., please contact us. Each program is free.
Safety of children is the primary focus for every law enforcement officer. We take pride in traveling to different schools across the Valley to speak with students. We share what we do as highway patrol officers in a career day. We can also organize safety presentations like bicycle rodeos. At such events, CHP officers talk about bicycle and pedestrian safety, check children’s helmets for correct size and fit and run them through a short riding course. Additionally, officers are always available during the Red Ribbon Week celebration. Officers attend assemblies and speak to students about drugs and alcohol abuse, and bullying.
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Another service is checks of car seats. We have an established partnership with the international organization Safe Kids Worldwide and provide the public with certified technicians. Car seats can be tricky, and approximately 70 percent of them are installed incorrectly. CHP technicians receive ongoing training and must re-certify every two years. At inspection events, we set up six to eight stations and inspect dozens of seats in one day. If you would like your car seat checked or are interested in conducting a car seat check-up event, call your local CHP office to schedule an appointment.
Traffic collisions are the leading cause of death in America for teens between the ages of 15 and 20. The CHP offers several programs focused on teen drivers. Start Smart helps newly (and future) licensed teenage drivers to understand the responsibilities with operating a motor vehicle. The goal is to build a more safe and responsible driver. Impact Teen Drivers is another program that seeks to change teen driving behaviors through emotional presentations. Unlike the Start Smart “class,” Impact Teen Drivers reaches out to teens with real stories. Motivational speakers share their stories on how their lives have been affected by reckless and distracted driving. This program has been utilized across the state, and I can attest that the message gets heard loud and clear every time.
Then there is the Every Fifteen Minutes program. Developed to prevent teen drinking and driving, every Fifteen Minutes helps students see the impact of the tragedy from a different perspective — through the eyes of family and friends. The CHP began administrating the Every Fifteen Minutes program in October of 2000. During the 2016/2017 school year, the CHP implemented 166 Every Fifteen Minutes programs statewide, impacting more than 153,000 students. Teenagers must know the consequences of getting behind the wheel if they have been drinking or if they choose to get into a car with someone who has.
If you have read anything in this article which could benefit your or your children or work place, please call us!