Over the years, extensive county needs assessments conducted by Ohio State University Extension repeatedly identified teen vehicular safety as a priority need in Ohio’s communities.
The 4-H CARTEENS vehicular safety initiative was developed in response to this need. The original CARTEENS Program began in Brown County, Ohio in 1987 with the support network of Becky Cropper (Brown County OSU Extension 4-H Educator), volunteer teen leaders, the juvenile probate court, and the Ohio Highway Patrol. Since 1987, the 4-H CARTEENS program has expanded throughout Ohio and to several other states across the nation. Our program here in Wayne County began around 1997.
The “Car” in CARTEENS stands for “Caution And Responsibility”, and “Teens” refers to the teenagers who help prepare and present the program to their peers. In CARTEENS programs, 4-H teen leaders teach traffic education safety programs to first-time teen traffic offenders, while also building offenders’ self-esteem and interpersonal skills. Teen traffic offenders attending this program have typically been cited for speeding, stop sign violations, reckless operation, and other, similar moving violations. CARTEENS program topics include excessive speed, driving under the influence, seat belt safety use, consequences of unsafe decisions, dealing with peer pressure, understanding traffic laws, and recognizing and reacting to traffic signs and signals. Increasingly distracted driving such as texting while driving or looking at one’s mobile device is a concern and topic as well.
CARTEENS has proven to be a valuable tool in educating Ohio’s teen drivers and saving lives on Ohio roads. Data collected from 4-H CARTEENS participants indicate a significant reduction in second-time traffic offenses, increased use of safety belts, reduced drinking and driving, and an increased use of caution when driving. More than 80 percent of the participants in a recent survey said they planned to use more caution when driving and will increase their use of seat belts.
Wayne County 4-H CARTEENS reaches more than 160 first-time juvenile traffic offenders per year through our partnership with the Wayne County Juvenile Court. We are currently looking for teens to join the program as peer instructors. We are also looking for adults to join our CARTEENS Advisory Committee to help us grow the program and provide insight to what’s needed in the area of teen driver education. Please contact me for more information.
Source: Excerpts retrieved from www.ohio4h.org/families/just-teens/carteens.
Doug Foxx is an OSU Extension 4-H Youth Development educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.