Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Behave Yourself! Keep Kids Alive!

Dear Friends in Safety,

Years ago Hank Ketchum created a vintage comic of Dennis the Menace using a grappling hook to scale the front door. His mom looks on in shock and shouts, "I thought I told you to behave yourself." Without hesitation, Dennis responds, "You told me to behave myself. You didn't tell me how to behave!"

This scene captures the essence and challenge of all Keep Kids Alive Drive 25® initiatives. In short, everything we do is directed toward educating motorists, pedestrians, bike-riders, and passengers to engage in behaviors that work to keep themselves and others safe. These include observing the speed limit, buckling up, stopping at stop signs, not tailgating, crossing the street correctly, and so much more. We are committed to working with all community leaders to create ongoing public education/awareness campaigns that engage all citizens in being taught, and to demonstrate that they have learned, roadway behaviors that create safer environments for us all. In short, teaching everyone how to behave themselves on and around roadways. (Teaching is a consistent, long-term commitment - like parenting. It is not a one-time or short term fix when addressing a behavioral concern, such as speeding.)

The challenge is that at times we ourselves may not believe that behavioral change is possible when it comes to driving, riding, or walking. We may believe that the only way to get people to drive the speed limit is through enforcement or by erecting lots of stop signs (although, in context, these have their place). We may believe that the only way to get people to buckle up is by writing tickets. We may believe that the only way to get people to slow down is by re-engineering all streets where drivers speed (which may well be most every roadway in America - and beyond).

KEEP KIDS ALIVE DRIVE 25® believes that educating towards pro-safety behaviors begins by engaging residents in creating the kind of environment we would like to see on our neighborhood streets, as well as on our sidewalks, school zones, park areas, and our own front yards. Margaret Meade said it so well when she wrote:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
When it comes down to action, it is our behaviors behind the wheel, or while walking or riding a bike (skateboards and scooters included) that determine how safe we are, as well as how safe others are around us.
Some folks think that behavioral approaches to addressing traffic safety are ineffective; that the challenge is too overwhelming. In considering thinking such as this it is important to remember that throughout recent history, there have been visionaries who believed that we could indeed engage whole populations in changing their behavior for the good of the community. Take these two examples:

1. In 1968 the town of Haleyville, Alabama became the first in the world to initiate the 911 emergency response system. Since that time, all of America (and countries throughout the globe) have adopted the system. Someone believed that it was possible to engage and educate an entire national population in changing their phone behavior to call 911 in an emergency. 41 years later, we all have stories about how 911 has impacted our life.

2. In the '70s, if someone was committed to recycling, they would gather their newspapers, bottles, and cans and make a trip to the local recycling center. It took a little effort to do so. At some point, though, someone believed it possible to engage and educate whole populations of cities to start recycling right at home. And what happened? Cities began to implement community-wide curbside, or alley-way, recycling programs - even issuing recycling containers to all residents to encourage participation. Now recycling is commonplace in communities of all sizes throughout the U.S. Recycling cans even show up in school cafeterias, at airports, and at sporting venues.

The point is that someone believed, built upon that belief, engaged partners, and educated citizens to behave in a whole new way.

When it comes to traffic safety education, behavioral approaches work as well - when we are explicit about the behavior being taught, and when we work to actively engage citizens in making these behaviors community norms. Read about communities that have seen results when they organized, planned, and engaged their citizens in creating a behavioral difference. Visit:
With this in mind, you are invited to join the "traffic revolution" committed to creating safer roadways and reducing the death rate on roadways to zero - the only acceptable goal - none of us would choose to have a loved one die in a traffic incident.

Keep Kids Alive Drive 25® is the only campaign of its kind with a national scope. Our commitment is to engage people in neighborhoods, schools, businesses, civic organizations, and faith communities to work cooperatively with law enforcement, public works, neighborhood services, city planners, and elected officials to create safe driving environments for the benefit of us all.

No one wants to be the person behind the wheel who hits someone. Let's make sure we do all that is in our power to do as individuals and whole communities to make sure this does not happen today, tomorrow, next week, next year, or 10 years from now. Join the Keep Kids Alive Drive 25® movement. Visit www.keepkidsalivedrive25.org/campaign/to get started today. Personal support is just a phone call - 402-334-1391 or e-mail kkad25@kkad25.org away.

Let's start today!

And remember,

“Don’t let the two minutes you ‘save’
be the last two minutes of someone’s life.”
David Townsend (Tia’s Dad).

In safety,
Tom Everson
KEEP KIDS ALIVE DRIVE 25® - A Non-Profit "For Action" Organization 501(c)(3)

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