Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Tipping Point, Broken Windows, Neighborhood Traffic Safety - It's No Accident!

The mission of KEEP KIDS ALIVE DRIVE 25® is 
to make streets safer for all who walk, cycle, play, drive, and ride. 

The Tipping Point, Broken Windows: 
Neighborhood Traffic Safety – It’s No Accident!

“The Tipping Point,” as defined by Malcolm Gladwell in his bestselling book of the same name, “is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”

“Broken Windows,” is a theory developed by criminologists James Q. Wilson and George Kelling. Simply stated, “If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon more windows will be broken. A sense of insecurity follows that spreads from the building to the street which it faces, sending a signal that anything goes. In a city, relatively minor problems like graffiti, public disorder… are the equivalent of broken windows, invitations to more serious crime.” (From The Tipping Point, page 141)
Neighborhood traffic safety can be looked at through this same lens of the “broken window” theory. Speeding and stop-sign running might be viewed as minor offenses. Yet, if drivers speed, run stops signs, and show general disregard for the safety of anyone on or near the street, it creates a sense of unease among neighbors. Left unchecked, parents may not allow children to play in the driveway or yard in fear for their safety. Pedestrians and bicycle riders may be less inclined to venture out as well. The unchecked motorist, in effect, is a “broken window” in the neighborhood creating a sense that this is not a safe place. Their behavior affects the quality of life and the behavior of residents in the neighborhood.

In order to address “broken windows,” such as speeding and stop sign running, citizens need to collaborate with law enforcement, public works, schools, businesses, civic organizations, and all interested parties in order to curtail these behaviors before a genuine tragedy occurs, the death of a loved one. “Broken windows” behavior behind the wheel can shatter the lives of families and the peace and well-being of our neighbors, classmates, and co-workers.

When we address what may appear to be minor violations of both law and common courtesy, we work to create a safer environment to benefit everyone in the neighborhood, including ourselves. No one wants to be behind the wheel and hit a child, or anyone for that matter. In traffic safety circles these complementary pieces are known as the 3 Es of Education, Enforcement, and Engineering. Sometimes a 4th E, Emergency Response, is added.

In building upon such collaboration, Keep Kids Alive Drive 25® seeks to create a “tipping point” in addressing speeding, stop sign running, and other traffic safety hazards in order to unite citizens and communities nationwide in making our roadways safer for us all. This takes the effort of each of us doing what we can, starting with our own driving behavior. As we commit to driving carefully, additional steps we can take include:

1. Talk with your neighbors about your concerns. Find out if they share these concerns. Invite them to get involved in making your neighborhood streets safer. Ask local law enforcement or public works to conduct a speed study in your neighborhood so that you have real data to present to neighbors. Additional information is available at or by e-mailing

2. Invite local, regional, and national media to highlight your efforts. Send them to for more information.
Invite local schools to make a difference for the benefit of their students and for the community at large. Direct them to these web pages for more information:
"A License to Live"

3. Invite local law enforcement, public works, and govt. leaders to establish a Traffic Safety Task Force to involve neighborhood, school, and business leaders in creating a workable and sustainable plan to address safety concerns. For an outline of steps to take, e-mail or call 402-334-1391.

4. Invite businesses to include Keep Kids Alive Drive 25®, BE AWARE! DRIVE WITH CARE™, Check Your Speed®/No Need To Speed®, Stop! Take 3 To See®, Stop Means Stop®, and Seat Belts-FASTENATING!® educational messages in their advertising and outreach into the community.

In short, you are invited to help create a KEEP KIDS ALIVE DRIVE 25® “TIPPING POINT” that will make streets safer for drivers, pedestrians, children at play, and bicycle riders throughout the U.S. Let’s make a difference and fix the “broken windows” of speeding, stop sign running, and all other behaviors that affect our safety on neighborhood streets (and beyond). Let’s create a “wildfire” of care and concern that makes a difference today, tomorrow, and everyday.

Neighborhood Traffic Safety: It’s No Accident! We look forward to supporting your commitment to the safety of all on the streets in your community. Call or e-mail at any time.

Safe travels,
Tom Everson
Tom Everson
Executive Director
Keep Kids Alive Drive 25®A Non-Profit "For Action" Organization 501(c)(3)
12418 C Street
Omaha, NE 68144                                                            

No comments: