Nebraska State Patrol

The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP), in conjunction with partners at the Nebraska Department of Transportation, continues efforts to educate youth on safe driving.

Troopers throughout Nebraska conducted 60 safety presentations from July through September, with a focus on seat belts and teen drivers. The presentations included the Rollover Simulator, Seat Belt Convincer, and Driving Simulator, reaching roughly 97,000 people with the message that seat belts save lives, released information from the Nebraska State Patrol says.

From October through December, NSP will continue education efforts utilizing grant funding from the Nebraska Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office (NDOT-HSO).

According to the Nebraska Strategic Highway Safety Plan, teen drivers ages 16-20 represent the highest number of unbelted fatalities. More than half of young drivers involved in a fatal crash were not wearing seat belts, with males representing 68 percent of young, unbelted drivers.

“Now that schools are in full swing, Troopers have a great opportunity to spread valuable safety messages across the state,” said Major Russ Stanczyk, Acting Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol through a released statement. “We look forward to hosting many events at schools and businesses throughout Nebraska to demonstrate the importance of wearing seat belts and driving safely.”

Fred Zwonechek, acting highway safety administrator, said that safety presentations serve as an effective, eye-opening experience for participants. The presentations serve as a vital awareness tool, he added.

“It’s generally an effort to make citizens aware of issues involving traffic safety,” Zwonechek said of the safety presentations during a Tuesday interview with the Tribune. “It revolves primarily around seatbelt use, impaired driving and several other big topics.”

Presentations have been held at high school football games, high schools, businesses and other venues.

Those interested in scheduling a safety presentation can visit the Community Policing/Safety Programs page of the NSP website for information.

Targeting teen drivers is of the utmost importance because while they represent a low percentage of the Nebraska driving population, they account for a large chunk of crashes.

“Teen drivers as a group make up 7 percent of our driving population, but last year, they were involved in 21 percent of all reportable crashes,” Zwonechek said. “They are well over represented and that’s why it’s important to get information out to not only teen drivers, but also to their parents.”

Safe driving campaigns heighten awareness and work toward reducing vehicle accidents.

“The ultimate goal is to reduce all crashes, but in particular fatal and serious injury crashes,” he said. “The collection of agencies involved in this effort are always working to get to zero fatalities, and to do that, you have to address all the different components that lead to them.”

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