How many students heard the message of your project?

Estimated percentage of your student body?

Who has your project aimed to reach? 
Freshman class, Sophomore class, Junior class, Senior class, School professionals, Parents, Community at large

This year Immaculate Heart Academy continued to bring attention to safe driving issues by way of the DriveSmart@theHeart campaign. Through the efforts of the IHA Traffic Safety Squad (TSS), our main focus was to make our school community more aware of the GDL laws. Our goal was to educate students, faculty, parents, and the outside community about the restrictions places on NJ permit and probationary drivers. Our club wanted to mix our traditional activities with new events. To build on our previous success, we wanted to improve our social media presence.

Target Audience:
Our biggest target audience was teen drivers and all who share the road with them. We also targeted parents of permit and probationary teen drivers. When parents are aware of GDL restrictions and enforce them, the teen crash rate goes down.

The TSS sponsored the following events this school year.

  • Attendance at Rebeka Verea Foundation Educational Symposium.
  • Student driver & passenger seat belt checks.
  • Halloween Celebration Seat Belt pledge poster. Blue Eagles Buckle Up stickers were also distributed.
  • Buckle up posters were created and hung at school exits.
  • Participation in NJM’s seat belt survey.
  • Lunch Time Seat Belt Trivia Game.
  • Driver Ed classes took the Pledge to Nakhil
  • Students, faculty, parents & friends took the NJM Just Drive Pledge .
  • Driver Ed Classes completed the Parent Poll
  • TSS Advertised in show programs for IHA’s theater productions.
  • A gift basket w/ traffic safety reminders for the athletic fundraiser.
  • Distribution of Red Decals to Permit & probationary drivers at IHA.
  • Distribution of traffic safety pamphlets at the IHA open houses.
  • A NHTSA link was sent to parents with resources about teaching teens to drive and the GDL laws.
  • Red Decals check. Cars w/ Decals received a congratulatory message & a Frosty coupon. Cars w/out decals were given a flyer that explained GDL restrictions.
  • A Red Decal survey was administered to permit & probationary drivers.
  • GDL Santa made his annual appearance. A PSA was viewed over the morning announcements about GDL Santa’s visit. Students who found GDL Santa & reported his message received a prize.
  • During a Pep Rally students in the stands received Driver Safety reminders.
  • For Valentine’s Hearts were posted in hallways with GDL reminders.
  • Our Traditional Junior Prom “SWAG BAGS” that contained safety reminders.
  • NJM’s What Do You Consider Lethal program.
  • AAA presentation about Marijuana’s effect on driving & NJ’s laws.
  • NJSIAA’s Coaches Game Plan Program for our athletic teams.
  • Creation of a media team that maintained a facebook, twitter, instagram and TikTok accounts.
  • NJM Just Drive Video Contest participant.

The IHA Traffic Safety Squad had approximately 50 members who participated in events, tasks, or projects. The moderator sent members an email about an upcoming assignment. Members were sent to a google doc where they could sign up to participate. Assignments varied and are explained in the summary above and the report video. This year the TSS had more sub-committees then in the past. Committees include social media, Just Drive PSA, GDL Santa PSA, Swag Bag Committee, Yearbook liaisons, NJSIAA Game Plan committee, and Red Decal Survey Committee. Committees were a good way for students to concentrate on one area.

Use of resources:

  • Students attended the Rebeka Verea Foundation Education Symposium. Presentation, information, and traffic safety handouts were shared with classmates when members returned to school.
  • Local AAA agent, Roz Thompson, presented information about the effects of Marijuana and NJ Laws.
  • TSS used statistics and information from several agencies and groups when posting on social media or presenting safety tips on IHA’s morning TV show. Many of resources also contain videos that were shown in Driver Ed class or on the Morning Announcement. The resources included – BIANJ, NJM, AAA, State Farm Insurance, CDC, ATSEA, Children’s Safety Network, NHTSA, and NJ MVC,
  • Several of the groups mentioned above also supplied our school with pamphlets and safety reminders that were distributed to our students.

Use of media:
Social Media was our club’s greatest area of growth this year. A committee of 8 members maintained the IHA TSS facebook, twitter, instagram and tiktok accounts. Beside the information sent by BIANJ, the committee posted information about school safety events. Members also posted current local and national events that were related to safety teen driving. We found that social media, in particular instagram and tiktok, was platform that reached our population.

As described in the previous question. PSA’s and safety video clips were used in both driver ed class and morning announcements.

Students in Driver Education class showed their understanding of safe teen driving by scoring high on tests, quizzed and the MVC Knowledge exam that contained questions about GDL laws and restrictions.  Some of the activities that TSS sponsored, student’s had to provide facts about the GDL laws to participate.

It was also interesting to see students “call each other out” when someone was breaking a GDL law.

The parent poll is a strong indicator that our students are having important conversations at home about the GDL. The Parent Poll statistics show how parents increased their knowledge of GDL issues while their daughters took the driver ed theory course. At the end the of the course the improvement was remarkable.

Students informally reported about real life situations where GDL laws saved a life or disregard for the laws resulted in a serious crash.

TSS members who are athletes reported that coaches were reinforcing the message of the NJSIAA Game Plan all season long.

Lastly, school administrators upheld GDL restriction on campus and school related activities.


  • Students, Faculty, and Parents have expressed how the TSS activities have changed the way they drive or made them more aware of the GDL restrictions.
  • The Parent Poll is one of our best indicators of changes. Parent are polled about the GDL and issues related to teaching teens to drive. Over the years, the 2nd poll has consistently showed how much parents learned while there daughter was taking driver ed. It also indicates that there was conversation about safe driving. The Parent Poll statistics will be submitted to the judges as a separate document.
  • Since 2002 IHA has kept statistics on seat belt usage. Numbers for usage grew from mid 80% to high 90% in the first 17 years. This year the percentage of students drivers who buckled up was 97%. However, there was a decrease of passenger usage. Front passengers usage was only 81% and Back Seat Passengers fell to 74%. Overall usage dipped to 89%. Due to program changes at HUMC, this was the first year IHA did not have a live speaker make a presentation about seat belts. Realizing that a seat belt presentation had a strong impact, TSS will examine having one of the Insurance companies present seat belt safety next year.
  • TSS has checked for Red Decal usage the past several years. Usage has held steady in the low 20%. Effort to increase usage in the past, had only a small impact. This year TSS attacked this issue with a Red Decal Survey. The number one reason decals were not used was fear of being a target. Next year, TSS is hoping to educate parents and students to dispel this myth. Survey statistics will be submitted to the judges as a separate document.

Receiving stickers, wristbands, key chains, and canvas bags will be a constant reminder to the target group about the GDL restrictions. In addition, when students and adults see red decals they will be patient because they know a teen driver who is learning is in the vehicle.
By forming good habits in teens and having parents reinforce the GDL rules, new drivers will maintain positive driving habits for life.
TSS keeps an email list of alumni members. Former members identify with their safe driving education and support TSS when asked to take surveys. Some members have commented on social media about their TSS experience.

Unexpected Lessons Learned:
It is always fascinating to see our student body get excited to participate in our annual events. The anticipation for GDL Santa and Lunchtime Seat Belt Trivia is amazing. It is refreshing to me that these somewhat “corny” and simple activities spark so much interest about driver safety.
I also had students make the connection with safety issues that TSS promotes to real life situations. One example was a member recognized a pedestrian hazzard on campus and addressed it to the administration. A second example was an email that I received from a student about a tragic loss of a friend who broke GDL restrictions and died in a crash. The student wanted to share this story, but felt she herself could not speak in front of her class. Yet she understood the importance of learning from others mistakes. Lastly, it is wonderful to see students who didn’t know each other come together to work on club projects. They develop friendships and respect for each other.

Stipend Reporting:
Your school received a stipend to support your Champion School Teen Driving Safety Project. Additionally, any funds that you raised as a result of your project must be reinvested into transportation safety. The purpose of this report is to itemize expenditures for your project that were paid from the stipend

Prizes for club events, Swag Bag contents, Safety reminders that were distributed – $400
Advertising in school play/musical journals – $200
Club T-Shirts – $300
Remainder to be used toward Bus Transportation – $100

Total – $1000