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Monday, April 23, 2007


Florida Department of Transportation


Round Table Meetings – Safety Belts


The Florida Department of Transportation conducted three Round Table meetings at DOT District offices in Lake City, Bartow, and Ft. Lauderdale on January 29, January 30, and February 7, 2007. The purpose of the meetings was to gain insight into what activities were being conducted to increase the state's safety belt use rate and to obtain ideas on how Florida's safety belt initiative can be improved.


Current Activities


Following are the current safety belt activities that are being conducted in Florida.



  • During 2006 campaign, the Clay County Sheriff's Department was successful in convincing a number of businesses along a major road to put up the Click It or Ticket message on their road fronting signs.
  • In Duval County, which had the highest number of safety belt citations during last year's Click It or Ticket campaign, support from the Sheriff was key to getting street officers to support the program.
    • The Polk County Sheriffs Department has a program where they map crashes to identify problem areas. Once those areas have been identified they proactively visit these locations and conduct safety belt enforcement.


  • The Collier County Sheriffs Department has a zero tolerance policy on safety belts and if officers see a driver or passenger without a safety belt, the person is given a citation.
  • Law Enforcement agencies in the Tampa area do a "Memorial Day Sale" that focuses not only safety belts but other traffic safety issues as well. The effort, which is targeted at high incident areas, includes patrols, boat, and helicopter enforcement.

Ethnic Outreach

  • The Duval County Traffic Safety Team provided "Buckle Up Religiously" fans in the past, which were very popular in churches in the area. "Buckle Up Religiously" came from an effort by the District 2 CTSP team member who distributed 80,000 to churches in the area, some of which were placed inside church bulletins.
  • DHSMV has a Hispanic Community liaison that does interviews and live broadcasts on traffic safety issues in the Miami-Dade area. He also attends neighborhood meetings, and is active in the Mothers and Families Expo that is held in May.


  • In District Two, safety belt materials were set up in the area where tax forms are available.
  • Andrea Atran, the CTST coordinator in District Two, was successful in establishing business partnerships with Jiffy Lube which distributed over 10,000 pieces of safety belt material, and Landstar, a transportation company, that distributed materials to employees. County agencies also provided information to employees and the District was successful in arranging for public service announcements to be shown at movie theaters, especially those near colleges and universities.


  • The Orange County CTST Coalition did an "Educational Safety Day" at WalMart and provided information to people inside and outside the store.
  • The Seminole County CTST conducted a Saved by the Belt / Car Seat program, customized cars with the safety belt message, and reached out to utility companies which were were receptive to sending out information.
    • The Schlossberg Foundation has safety belt PSAs in movie theaters around the state.


  • In the central part of the state, schools participate in a "Battle of the Belts" to see which schools have the highest safety belt use rate.
  • The Polk County Sheriff's Office did a program at area high schools. After gaining support from the school administration, officers would conduct a safety belt survey to see which students wore safety belts. Students wearing safety belts received an incentive and those that did not received educational information. Officers went back to the school and if they found a student not wearing a safety belt for a third time, the individual received a citation. The office also requested that the school pull the individual's school parking pass.


  • Barbara Myer with the Brevard County MPO has been successful in adding safety messages to school curriculums.
  • CTST Coordinator Deb Stallings promoted the safety belt message at local parades such as school homecoming parade where a float was decorated with a safety belt message.
  • A father whose son was killed in a motor vehicle crash has started a foundation in South Florida where businesses are asked to sponsor and provide incentives (Blockbuster movie rentals, etc.) which are given by volunteers to students who are wearing safety belts.
  • The Broward County MPO has an active partnership with the schools in Miami/Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. It was noted that often schools will place a moratorium on non-educational activities, which is important for groups to know.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol conducts roll over simulations at high schools around homecoming and prom.
  • The Florida Sheriffs Association is planning a Teen Driver Challenge program (two classes have been conducted so far).
  • The Broward County school system allows 30 second announcements which could include safety belt use.


Following is a list of all of the ideas to improve safety belt use that were generated at the Round Table meetings.

Click It or Ticket

  • Marketing ideas:
    • Place signage at town entrances indicating the safety belt use rate for that town.
    • Use variable message boards and include a safety belt message. (There are strict guidelines that prohibit messages other than those relating to traffic conditions. DMS policy does allow some safety slogans on a rare occasion. It was recommended that MU-TCD be contacted to request permission.)
    • Place signage at transit locations.
    • Use government access channels (county/city cable stations) to broadcast safety belt messages.
    • Place public service announcement in movie theaters.
    • Place information in DHSMV offices particularly information on the new under 18 primary law.
    • Place messages on fire trucks and EMS vehicles and create a list serve to get out information to EMS providers across the state about this effort.
    • Distribute information at school carnivals; cultural and community events; concerts; county fairs; festivals in the northern part of the state (Cedar Key Festival, horse shows, Peanut Festival); high school football/basketball games; horse and cattle association meetings; rodeos, and at shopping malls.
    • Involve businesses in the effort and request information be distributed by auto dealerships and at Jiffy Lube locations.


  • Message ideas:
    • Use real people to promote the safety belt message and conduct live demonstrations (seat belt convincer, roll over vehicle) at community events (churches, schools, rodeos, safety fairs).
    • Focus the media events at times of the year when the media is most interested in traffic safety (holidays, Labor Day, prom/graduation season).
    • Involve a number of agencies in safety belt media events.


  • Reach out to:
    • EMS providers because they have resources and trauma centers are required to do educational programs;
    • County health departments;
    • Migrant associations;
    • University of Florida (University is willing to do outreach to smaller communities);
    • Leadership programs (Leadership Orlando, etc.);
    • Florida Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Associations (do a presentation at their annual meetings to encourage law enforcement to participate in safety belt programs), and
    • Florida Association of School Resource Officers (do presentation at annual meeting).
  • Provide separate funding and generic materials to communities so they can customize the message and set aside one percent of construction funds for a Safety Education Regional Media Campaign that would also include safety belts.
  • Review a song by country singer Rodney Atkins on "Going Through Hell" CD which has some safety messages. The singer may be willing to allow the song to be used in a safety belt campaign.
  • Provide information for foreign visitors on the state's safety belt law.
  • Prepare a PowerPoint presentation geared to safety belts/aggressive driving and give it to law enforcement officials for school/community presentations.
  • Include information in safety belt materials on the cost of safety belt tickets (average is $49 but counties have options for add-ons).
  • Primary Law
    • The media in Florida is very supportive of a primary safety belt law with many of the newspapers in the state doing supportive editorials. Reach out to newspapers again and ask that they do editorials on the benefits of a primary safety belt law.
    • Invite legislators to participate in safety belt mobilization efforts.
    • Work with local Sheriffs and ask them to educate elected officials on the importance of a primary safety belt law.
  • Prepare an annual calendar of Traffic Safety Events and make sure law enforcement agencies have the information well in advance so they can prepare for any mobilizations.
  • Link the safety belt initiative to CARE Weekends that are sponsored by Operation Life Saver.
  • The Florida Safety Office has a good safety belt training program, but it was recommended that Florida trainers be used.


Buckle Up In Your Truck

  • Many round table participants liked the television ad for this campaign because it addressed the fact that people feel safer in their trucks and do not wear safety belts as a result.
  • Focus the Buckle Up In Your Truck campaign in rural areas.
  • Craft the Buckle Up In Your Truck message for the audience, i.e., anti-authority/risk-taking mentality.
  • Distribute information at Quarter Horse, Cattle, Horse Breeding Association events, and rodeos.
  • Place ads on country music stations (99.9 in Miami area).
  • The truck weight limitation in the safety belt law confuses the issue and makes enforcement difficult.
  • Reach out to truck dealerships and ask them to participate in the campaign.
  • Many Hispanics buy trucks for work so advertise the campaign in the Hispanic media.
  • Customize a truck with the Buckle Up In Your Truck message and place signatures of well known people on it to promote the acceptance of safety belts.
  • Distribute materials at the NASCAR Race in Miami/Dade area.


Ethnic Outreach

  • Work with ministerial associations and have them promote the message.
    • Reach out to stores that sell "bling"(wheels, paint, etc.) and ask that they distribute safety belt materials.
  • Hire an Occupant Protection specialist to focus on migrant communities, and conduct child safety seat program with this population.
    • Link the safety belt issue to immigration.
    • Be careful on the use of African American for blacks in Florida since many blacks in the state come from Jamaica and the West Indies.
    • Provide PSAs to the West Indian radio station in the Miami area.
      • Provide materials and information to all ethnic media including Creole.
      • Distribute materials at the annual Hispanic Unity Fest.


  • Marketing ideas:
    • Put safety belt information on MySpace, FaceBook, etc.
    • Use pressure from mothers to convince young people to buckle up.
    • Do a parent dedication to a child who has died in an unbelted crash on YouTube.
    • Do "Saved By The Belt" messages (emphasize consequences; use personal stories).
    • Place ads in movie theaters.
    • Place wrecked cars with safety messages at strategic locations or at schools.
    • Sponsor a contest among high schools (make clear guidelines and rules).
    • Put messages on bookmarks.
    • Work with Department of Education to put messages on FCAT Explorer.
    • Use sports figures such as Florida Gators, Heat players.
    • Participate in Great American Teach-In (done in Tampa area) or request local officers to discuss safety belts at the event.
    • Write letters to principals and urge them to get involved.
    • Partner with Florida School Resource Officers and state and local law enforcement agencies to sponsor a high school program that could include contests, safety belt surveys, assemblies, etc.


  • Conduct outreach to:
    • Church youth groups;
    • Florida High School Coaches Association Reach, i.e., coaches are role models, and
    • SADD and Safe Schools Ambassadors;
  • Determine feasibility of sponsoring the Ford/Toyota "Teen Driving Experience" program.
  • Urge school boards to withhold parking privileges of students who fail to wear safety belts.
  • Research the "Truth" campaign and see if it could be used in Florida.
  • Create a software tool so that schools can include pop up safety messages on the school's computer system.
  • Distribute information to scouting programs, Boys & Girls Clubs, and after-school programs.
  • Use community service programs as a way to educate young people about safety belt use.
  • Contact pediatricians in the state and request them to talk with their high school age patients about importance of safety belts.
  • Develop a separate campaign to educate young people about the primary law for those under 18.
  • Look at the Driver's Education program which is starting to disappear from schools around the state. (Dore/Schlossberg Driver's Education law provides that $5 from every ticket be dedicated to driver's education programs. A total of $14 million has been collected and distributed to the 55 counties that agreed to participate in the program.)
    • Find out where money is actually being spent in the counties that accepted the funding.
    • Do a study to see if fatalities/injuries have increased in those counties where driver's education is no longer offered.
  • Put information into the school's health curriculum.


Law Enforcement/Courts

  • Make sure law enforcement officers know why safety belt data is being collected, i.e., its importance in targeting programs.
  • Provide officer incentives such as those given in Chief's Challenge, but keep in mind the size of the department which may not have the time and resources to put together a submission for Chief's Challenge.
    • Consider other ideas to recognize law enforcement, i.e., CTST Awards.
  • Request law enforcement officers promote the safety belt message in churches.
  • Use zip codes to target areas for extra attention (Polk County has a program where they map out infractions and conduct extra enforcement in those areas).
  • Consider a judicial education program given that a high number of the secondary safety belt offenses are either downgraded, reduced or dismissed. (This is a particular problem in Miami-Dade where the Chief Traffic Judge feels sorry for those cited for a secondary safety belt offense. In Broward County there is a problem with magistrates who are defense attorneys and are often inclined to dismiss secondary safety belt offenses.)
    • Work with judges particularly on sanctions for youth violators, i.e., ride the bus.

Transportation Safety Summit – Safety Belt Workshop

March 13, 2007


On Day Two of Florida's Transportation Safety Summit, participants attended one of the three workshops focusing on the three priority areas in the Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP) – Occupant Protection, Impaired Driving, and Traffic Records. These are the areas the SHSP Steering and Executive Committees determined should be priority rather than emphasis areas since they already receive considerable attention and focus.

The Safety Belt workshop included an overview of the occupant protection problem in the state, which showed that, despite increasing safety belt use by seven percent (7%) in 2006 from 74 to 81 percent, Florida still lags behind the national average of 82 percent. The usage rate is supplied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which conducts an annual survey for states around the national "Click It or Ticket" campaign. In 2006 NHTSA updated Florida's survey methodology and conducted observational surveys in a representative sample of counties in the northern, central, and southern parts of the state. Based on their results, four percent of the safety belt use rate was attributed to the change in survey design and three percent to activities being conducted around the state to encourage people to properly buckle up.

Survey counties with the highest safety belt use rate based on 2006 observational survey (80% and above).

Counties with the highest number (top 15%) of unbelted persons with serious and fatal injuries (based on 2004 data).

Counties with the highest number (top 15%) of safety belt citations per 1,000 population during the May/June 2006 "Click It or Ticket It" campaign.

Shaded    Counties where 2006 Safety Belt Survey was conducted.


To help participants further understand the challenges and opportunities associated with increasing belt use, data from the survey were distributed to provide specific breakdowns by county, gender, race, and vehicle type.



Following the general information on Florida safety belt use, participants heard from three individuals who have been successful in conducting programs in the areas of enforcement, community, and media.




Andrew Dawson, Law Enforcement Liaison Program (LEL), Florida Safety Office, reported on a number of successful safety belt initiatives sponsored by members of the law enforcement community, e.g. the Leon County Sheriff's Office has reached out to the media with regular appearances on a morning news program and wide spread coverage for a mock crash exercise at a local high school.


Dawson provided several suggestions for successful law enforcement safety belt programs.


  • School based programs generate a great deal of media coverage. It is best to approach the school resource officers first because they can help smooth the way with the school administration.


  • Provide incentives, such as equipment, to encourage law enforcement agency participation.


  • Recognize law enforcement agencies and officers who have been the most productive and give them a plaque to hang in their department as a way to reinforce the message.


  • Develop a network of law enforcement agencies for the distribution of materials.


  • Have a law enforcement agency recognize people in the community who have done an outstanding job of promoting safety belt use.


  • Use "Saved by the Belt" stories to gain media attention.


  • Encourage law enforcement agencies to participate in mobilizations and use equipment that is already available such as local public works department signs to promote the safety belt message.




Sheryl Bradley, Chair, and Susan Hulcher, Co-Chair, Orange County Community Traffic Safety Team (CTST), reported on successful community programs in the large and diverse Orange County area. Orange County has a population larger than the state of Utah. The residents represent 169 countries and speak 133 languages. The county encompasses over 1,000 square miles and has the twelfth largest school system in the nation with 162 schools and 178,000 students. In addition to residents, Orange County has over 53 million visitors each year, which is not factored into Federal funding formulas. Despite these numbers, the county's fatality rate went down 4% between 2005 and 2006.


Some of the successes for the Orange County CTST include the following:


  • The education effort starts early with pre-school and elementary age children who hear about safety belts from Buckle Bear.


  • The CTST also sponsors booster seat initiatives and provides safety belt messages at the Sheriff's Office Children's Safety Village.


  • At middle/high schools, activities such as "Ghost Out" and "Grim Reaper" are conducted to remind young people how many lives are lost because someone was not wearing a safety belt. Mock DUI crashes that include a safety belt message are also conducted, but there are limited opportunities for this type of activity with only four to six being conducted each year that reach approximately 1500 students. Pledge cards are also distributed where young people pledge to always wear their safety belt. Other popular programs for seniors are the Drive Well program and Car Fit where they are shown how to use a safety belt.


  • The CTST provides information at community and health fairs and at gas stations which are good locations to display safety belt messages. They also utilize other prime locations such as the police department headquarters along I-4 where a large banner was hung during the "Click It or Ticket" campaign.


  • A number of car seat checks are held on a regular basis. One of the team's more effective programs was the removal of car seats being sold at thrift stores because they are often of poor quality and unsafe.


  • Students from the University of South Florida were approached to help distribute Good Sport citations with at safety belt message at tailgate areas during university games.


  • The CTST works closely with the judiciary and is one of the few counties in the nation who have established a Child Restraint Offenders Program (CROP). They also work with law enforcement and encourage them to write citations. Last year the Orange County Sheriff's Office gave out candy canes and a flyer at a major intersection to individuals wearing a safety belt.


  • The CTST has also actively promoted the need for a primary safety belt law and has conducted a post card initiative to encourage passage of this legislation.




Diane Brunet, from Brunet Garcia Multi-Cultural Advertising and Public Relations, provided some concrete suggestions on how individuals can continue to gain media attention for their safety belt initiatives. Some of the challenges are: the media is busy, skeptical by nature, and has heard the story before.




  • Leverage what you have by doing your homework and using existing credible resources such as NHTSA's "Click It or Ticket" planner.


  • Give the media what they need in the form of press kits, fact sheets, b-roll, and a bilingual interview subject.




  • Stay on top of data and trends such as the recent research done by Meharry Medical College on Hispanics.


  • Access and report on legitimate traffic studies because statistics are compelling.


  • Give the media a real story such as a person who has been "saved by the belt."


Old News


  • Find out who covers these types of stories and contact that person.


  • Look for something new and fresh, and dare to try something different.


  • Develop a good media "hook".


  • Take advantage of law enforcement involvement in your program.


  • Reach out to new groups such as Minority Auto Dealers and ask them to participate in "Buckle Up In Your Truck," by hanging tags that explain to customers how to use restraint devices.


Following the presentations, the group brainstormed on some additional activities and provided information on available resources.


Law Enforcement Activities


  • LEL's are conducting presentations in every law enforcement agency in the state and are also charged with reaching out to community groups. They are encouraging every department to have a zero tolerance policy with respect to citations for non-safety belt use. The LELs have found the "No Excuses" message proves popular with law enforcement agencies.


  • The LEL program is conducting nine law enforcement workshops focusing on the upcoming enforcement waves, the Chiefs Challenge, funding, materials, and mobilization.


  • Materials that are available from the LEL program include safety belt banners and crash dummies. Contact is Andy Dawson,, 850-694-1615.


  • The Tampa Police Department conducts presentations in every driver's education class and has a program for parents, "My Teen Behind the Wheel," that focuses on the parent role as a mentor in the driving process.


  • The Florida Safety Office is producing a new PSA featuring Hispanic race car driver Juan Pablo Montoya. Brunet Garcia will also be working with Univision and various radio personalities to get out the safety belt message.


  • A program that has proved to be very popular with young people is the rollover simulator. The Florida Highway Patrol has four around the state and the LEL program is looking at purchasing additional units.


  • The Chiefs' Challenge is a good way to get law enforcement agencies involved in safety belts. The Challenge focuses on policies, education, effectiveness, and recognition. Winners receive equipment. Encourage departments to attend the FL Chiefs Challenge Workshop.


Chiefs' Challenge is a program of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) that targets three major traffic safety priorities: Occupant Protection, Impaired Driving, and Speeding. The program recognizes law enforcement agencies that do an outstanding job of promoting traffic safety enforcement in these areas. For more information, visit the Chiefs' Challenge web site at


  • Send your logo and a brief explanation to local television stations and request that they place it on their web site.


  • Schedule media events on Mondays which are traditionally the slowest news day.


  • If you are participating in a talk show, make sure you have good content.


Community Activities


  • District 2 was able to convince business partner Jiffy Lube to tag radio ads with a safety belt message.


  • Contact McDonalds in your area and request they use tray liners with a safety belt message.


  • Conduct community events and hand out lifesavers as a safety belt reminder.


  • Distribute Vince and Larry coloring books to day care centers.


For more information on Florida's safety belt initiative visit Buckle Up Florida at or the Department of Transportation Safety Office at








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