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UGA Traffic Injury Prevention Institute awarded grant for statewide education programs

By for CAES News

CONYERS, Ga. – The University of Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute has been awarded a $640,000 grant from the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) to continue its statewide education programs in the areas of child passenger safety, parent and teen driving safety and senior driver education.

The Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute, or GTIPI, has partnered with GOHS for the past 28 years in designing and delivering education that improves driver and passenger safety throughout life. The institute continues to be a leading resource in traffic safety training and education in Georgia.

The partnership between the GOHS and UGA dates back to 1986. At that time, federal grant funding was awarded to states with highway safety offices for partnering with institutions of higher education to address traffic injuries, utilizing an education and enforcement approach to reducing fatalities.

In Georgia, UGA Extension was awarded funding support to teach classes for parents and caregivers on the consistent and correct use of child safety seats in all 159 Georgia counties.

Originally the Occupant Safety Education Program, the project was renamed GTIPI in 2002. The institute continues today as an outreach initiative of UGA Extension through the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

Through this year’s grant award, the institute will offer four different training and community education initiatives: the National Child Passenger Safety Technician Certification Program, Georgia Teens Ride with P.R.I.D.E. (Parents Reducing Injuries and Driver Error), CarFit for senior drivers and the Online Safety Store.

Each program area delivers education for consumers, safety professionals and community volunteers designed to address the most common causes of traffic injuries and fatalities for target age groups. GTIPI also serves as a statewide resource for answering consumer questions about safer travel.

Law enforcement, emergency medical services, health departments, Extension educators, fire departments and other organizations across the state participate in GTIPI’s training and distribute GTIPI educational materials. On-site training is conducted statewide at regional locations as well as at GTIPI’s headquarters and training facility in Conyers.

Even though child safety seats are used more than 90 percent of the time by Georgia parents, child passenger safety technicians consistently find that almost all of those in use are installed incorrectly, said Don Bower, UGA professor emeritus and GTIPI project director.

The GTIPI project qualifies public safety professionals and fire, medical and community volunteers to teach parents how to correctly install child safety seats.

Another program, P.R.I.D.E., trains instructors on how to deliver safe driving tools to the community. For the last 10 years, Georgia Teens Ride with P.R.I.D.E, GTIPI’s course for parents and their new teen drivers, has aimed to reduce teen injuries and fatalities through education. P.R.I.D.E. instructors not only help parents guide teens through the license process, but also help teens learn how to avoid crashes. P.R.I.D.E. instructors equip both the parent and teen with accurate information about how to obtain and keep a Georgia driver’s license.

The national Governor’s Highway Safety Association showcased Georgia Teens Ride with P.R.I.D.E. in 2013 in recognition of the program’s strong educational impacts on state graduated driver licensing laws and parental involvement.

Car crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens, and more than two-thirds of teens who die in crashes in Georgia aren’t buckled up, Bower said.

The national CarFit program, designed for drivers aged 55 and older, helps seniors stay safer behind the wheel for longer. CarFit is a non-threatening way to educate seniors about how to stay safe and comfortable in their cars as their physical abilities change with age, Bower said.

The Online Safety Store, a partnership between GOHS and GTIPI, is now in its seventh year. The store is Georgia’s primary source for print and electronic traffic safety resources for public safety, public health and traffic safety professionals and consumers. GTIPI manages distribution of GOHS materials from gahighwaysafety.org.

For more information on GTIPI, traffic safety training and programs or other traffic-related resources, go to ridesafegeorgia.org or call (678) 413-4281 or (800) 342-9819.

Cal Powell is the public relations coordinator for the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences.