August 22, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
75°F
test

Lorain County JVS program encourages children to buckle up

Deputy Sheriff Tony Pluta, JVS school resource officer, shows preschool students Colton Cowling and Shelby Gallion how to fasten a seat belt. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

Deputy Sheriff Tony Pluta, JVS school resource officer, shows preschool students Colton Cowling and Shelby Gallion how to fasten a seat belt. STEVE MANHEIM/CHRONICLE

PITTSFIELD TWP. — Teachers and administrators at Lorain County Joint Vocational School are hoping their safe driving message reaches the community.

Deputy Sheriff Tony Pluta, JVS school resource officer, hands preschool student Taylor Varner a prize for buckling up in a seat belt on Tuesday.

Deputy Sheriff Tony Pluta, JVS school resource officer, hands preschool student Taylor Varner a prize for buckling up in a seat belt on Tuesday.

As part of the school’s annual “Buckle-up Bowl” week, teachers relayed the message to the community’s youngest members — preschool students at JVS. Students listened to a story read by Principal Jill Petitti and JVS school resource officer Deputy Tony Pluta before buckling themselves into specially-made seats for the occasion.

After the program, students received a sticker to show that they belong to the buckle-up club.

Pluta said preschool students have told him that they’ve reminded their parents to buckle their seat belts. That’s the idea behind the Buckle-up Bowl, he said.

Petitti said JVS has hosted Buckle-up Bowl week for seven years to encourage safe driving habits, especially leading up to high school proms. She said the entire student body is involved in programs throughout the week.

Students from the collision repair program built the safety seats, and marketing and management students made signs, banners and displays.

Preschoolers wait in line to learn how to buckle up safely.

Preschoolers wait in line to learn how to buckle up safely.

Today, crash dummies “Vince and Larry” will visit the JVS to take pictures with students. During their lunch periods, students also may try on special goggles and run through a series of tasks. The goggles mimic what it’s like to drive impaired because of alcohol or drugs, according to the school.

Petitti said students will be rewarded throughout the week with coupons and other prizes if they are seen buckling up. Students who take a five-question safe driving quiz during lunch will receive a backpack provided by the Safe Driving Coalition that reads, “JVS students buckle up and make the grade.”

When students leave the school, they will drive by a vehicle totaled in a traffic wreck.

Petitti said the program appears to be working.

“We used to hear of crashes all the time, especially from our students who were driving erratically,” she said. “But now, I don’t hear it as much.”

She added that school is an important time to stress the safe-driving message.

“Parents are promoting this at home, but it’s important to promote this here as well,” she said. “We have them for eight hours a day.”

For more information on Lorain County JVS’s Buckle-up Bowl week, visit the school’s Facebook page. Pictures from the events will be posted throughout the week.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.

  • Sue

    Buckle up, just not in a school bus!

    • Nick Noneya

      The
      US National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA), one of the
      most influential government agencies when it comes to public safety on
      roadways, has stated that current school buses are among the safest
      forms of transportation available. After studying the results of
      crashes involving these buses, the NHTSA stated that there was no
      compelling reason to believe the use of seatbelts should be federally
      mandated. Most accidents were either frontal or rear collisions, which
      means that passengers were protected by a safety feature called compartmentalization.

      Compartmentalization,
      a concept seen frequently on commercial airplanes, involves seating
      passengers in rows of padded seats with cushioned backs. The belief is
      that during frontal or rear impact, the most common types of wrecks
      involving school buses, passengers would either be pushed back into
      their seats or thrown forward into the padded backs of the row ahead.
      The use of seatbelts might require stiffer seats, which would negate the
      theory of compartmentalization. It is also feared that some students
      would receive internal injuries from the belts through a process called submarining, the tendency for a body to slide downwards during impact.

      Seatbelts could also
      hamper rescue or evacuation efforts, as adults or older students may
      have to spend precious minutes unbuckling young or disoriented
      passengers. Unruly students could also use the heavy buckles as
      makeshift weapons, creating even more of a safety hazard. There is also
      the argument that seatbelts would only protect passengers during
      unusual events, such as roll-overs or flips, not other possible
      accidents such as fires or submersion. Considering the expense of
      retrofitting current school buses or replacing entire fleets with
      approved seat belt systems, the benefits do not currently outweigh the
      liabilities.

      • Sue

        What’s missing from that article is the widely known fact that to create a habit, you must consistently reinforce it. For a school to preach seat belt use to this degree, and then send the students home on a bus with no seat belts, you lose so much of the lesson. Also – just because “most” school bus accidents do not end tragically due to compartmentalization, and because they are “imporactical” due to all of the other rationalizations listed, does not mean seat belts would not prevent more injuries then they may theoretically contribute. I see many more stories of roll overs (considering the physics of a school bus) than I do submersion or fire.