The University of Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute has been awarded a $656,000 grant from the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) to continue statewide child passenger safety, parent and teen driving safety, and senior driver education programs.
The Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute (GTIPI) has partnered with GOHS for the past 30 years in designing and delivering education that improves driver and passenger safety throughout a person's lifespan. The institute continues to be a leading resource in traffic safety training and education in Georgia.
The Georgia GOHS-UGA partnership began in 1986 when federal grant funds were awarded to states with highway safety offices. The grants were to be used for partnering with institutions of higher education to address traffic injuries, with an education and enforcement approach to reducing fatalities. In Georgia, UGA Cooperative Extension uses the grant to conduct classes for parents and caregivers on the consistent and correct use of child safety seats in all of Georgia’s 159 counties.
Originally named the Occupant Safety Education Program, the project was renamed GTIPI in 2002. The institute continues today as an outreach initiative of UGA Extension and the UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences.
Through this year’s grant award, the institute will offer four training and community education initiatives: the National Child Passenger Safety Technician (CPST) 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 adult education to consumers, safety professionals and community volunteers and is 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 safe travel.
Law enforcement, emergency medical services, health departments, Extension educators, fire departments and others across the state participate in GTIPI’s training and distribute educational materials. On-site training is conducted across the state at regional locations and GTIPI’s headquarters and training facility in Conyers, Georgia.
Parents and young children benefit from safety professionals and volunteers who receive national certification in the child passenger safety technician course.
“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 National CPST Certification course offered by GTIPI qualifies public safety professionals and community volunteers to teach parents how to eliminate installation and use mistakes.”
The P.R.I.D.E. program trains instructors how to deliver safe driving tools to the community. For the last 10 years, GTIPI’s course for parents and their new teen drivers, “Georgia Teens Ride with P.R.I.D.E.,” has worked to reduce teen injuries and fatalities through education.
A train-the-trainer certification course equips P.R.I.D.E. instructors to help parents guide their teens through the driver’s licensing process and helps 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.
“Georgia Teens Ride with P.R.I.D.E.” was showcased by the national Governors Highway Safety Association in 2013 for its 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 weren’t buckled up,” Bower said.
The national CarFit program is designed for drivers aged 55 and older. It helps seniors stay behind the wheel longer and more safely.
“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 is a partnership between GOHS and GTIPI. Now in its ninth year of collaboration, the store is Georgia’s primary source for print and electronic traffic safety resources for public safety, public health, traffic safety professionals and consumers. GTIPI manages the distribution of GOHS materials from www.gahighwaysafety.org.
For more information on GTIPI traffic safety training and programs or other traffic-related resources, go to www.gtipi.org or call 800-342-9819.