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. The TSS wanted to build on last years project of increasing the use of Red Decals by NJ GDL permit and probationary license drivers.

Target Audience:
Our target audience was new 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 also reached out to Driving Schools to try to get them involved with the red decal program.

The IHA Traffic Safety(TSS)brought attention to the GDL laws by organizing the following year long events.

  • Driver Ed classes taking the Pledge to Nakhil
  • Driver Ed Classes completion of the Parent Poll
  • Participation in the NJM Just Drive Pledge
  • Participation in the BIANJ & NJM Video PSA Contest
  • Participation in the HUMC Safe Teen Driver Challenge Seat Belt Contest
  • Presentation by Mel Gonzales of HUMC about the importance of all Passive Safety Devices.
  • Distribution of pamphlets and key chains to students and staff about driver safety.
  • Seat Belt Safety Trivia.
  • Halloween Raffle Pledge to Buckle Up. The Pledge Poster was then hung outside our Cafe in November.
  • Safety Posters hung throughout the school.
  • Created an Ads about seat belt use in the IHA theater productions ad journal.
  • Find GDL Santa that contained Driver Safety Reminders. Safety Prizes were awarded.
  • Distribution of Junior Class Prom “Swag Bags.”
  • Letter writing campaign NJ Driving Schools. TSS encouraged Driving Schools to increase their fee by $4 to purchase Red Decals to those under 21 years at the same time the school purchased permits. The extra $4 fee would save a trip to MVC for the decals.
  • Participation in the NJSIAA Coaches Game Plan Program.
  • NJM Presentation by Mr. Mike McCormack titled What Do You Consider Lethal?”
  • Maintaining a facebook, twitter and instagram account to spread safety messages.

The IHA Traffic Safety Squad had approximately 50 members who participated in events, tasks, or projects. Students were sent an email by the moderator 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 final video report. Some students took on leadership roles. Leadership roles included committee chairs, social media specialists, liaison to the schools TV morning show and year book & administrative record keeper. Some students were “workers.” “Worker” responsibilities included letters writing, completing order forms, filling “swag bags,” distribution of materials, event assistant or keeping files straight. No matter what a member’s job, communication and coordination with other members was vital.

Use of resources:
AAA, HUMC, NJM, NJ MVC, and The Sharing Network , State Farm Insurance provide information in the form of flyers and traffic safety reminders that were used by our club.

Mel Gonzales from HUMC presented the ENCARE program to driver education students. Mel’s program concentrated on the importance of passive safety devices.

Mike McCormack from NJM presented What Do You Consider Lethal to our driver education classes.

TSS was successful having all our athletes and their coaches participate in the GDL Game Plan program.

NJ DMV, Jersey Drives, NJM, CHOP, State Farm, AAA, All State, GHSA, NHTSA, and several of the car manufacturers all had information and videos on their website related to safe teen driving. TSS members used information from these sites to create messages that were viewed by the student body during morning announcements. The resources were also used in Driver Ed Class.

Parent were also steered to these sites for information. Parents were given specific literature from NJ MVC and the electronic copy of Children’s Safety Network booklet that was dedicated to their roll in teaching teens to drive.

Use of media:
The TSS created 30 second announcements or submitted video clips that found online for the IHA morning news program on our HeartTV station.

The TSS posted some of these messages on our social media platforms, our school websites, and sent parents information via an electronic newsletter.

This year TSS created their own PSA about the GDL for the Just Drive Video contest.

TSS maintained a facebook, twitter, and instagram accounts.

Our concentration was on making our community more aware of the GDL restrictions. Driver Ed students were tested and quizzed on material in the NJ Driver manual proving they understand the GDL laws. TSS members have become resources in our building about the GDL laws. Many members have discussed how they are helping their friends outside of the IHA community to understand the restrictions. 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. We have witnessed this same type of increase of knowledge several years in a row. The Parent Pool results chart is embedded in the Final Report Video. The Share the Keys pamphlet provided by MVC and funded by NJM is a resource that helped in this process. As was the electronic parent handbook provided for parents by The Children’s Safety Network. Lastly, school administrators upheld GDL restriction on campus and school related activities.

The TSS measured change by conducting two seatbelt checks with and educational phase between them. Seat belt usage went from 91% to 97% for student passengers and student drivers. This is explained in more detail in the final report video.

A copy of the parent poll is embedded in final report video. It shows how parental knowledge about the GDL has increased every year for the past 7 years.

Change has been slow to measure red decal usage due to COVID. After two years of bringing this issue to the attention of our community, TSS is hoping to have a more accurate measurement next year.

We are pleased that the safe driving culture that TSS created at IHA

has made administrators, coaches and club moderators more aware of GDL restrictions when planning events and student transportation.

COVID has created challenges for TSS this year. We are hoping to get feedback from driving schools in the near future about our campaign to encourage the schools to purchase decals for their behind the wheel students.

Hopefully the motivational items that were distributed to the target group will be a constant reminder about the GDL restrictions. Perhaps memory of a safety event will trigger positive behavior when driving. 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 good driving habits for life.

Unexpected Lessons Learned:
I was surprise how enthusiastic the senior class was about participating in safety events. Our seniors embraced the GDL Santa and Trivia activities. Our senior class was disappointed with our initial seat belt results, and express joy when our statistics increased. It made underclasswomen realize that IHA is a place where safe driving is taken very seriously.

I also had several parents comment to me that their daughters had conversations with them about the driving related speakers and activities that took place during the year. These conversations are a good gateway for parents to become involved with their teen’s driving.

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 – $200

T-Shirts – $200

Transportation to 6 Flags – $800

Total – $1,200