Reducing Injuries, Death Toll on Georgia’s Roads

Vehicular crashes are a leading cause of injury and death, particularly among teens and young adults, and their dollar cost to American society is estimated to be in the hundreds of billions annually. This is a problem that must be confronted state by state, and here in Georgia, UGA’s Traffic Injury Prevention Institute was established in 1986 to provide education aimed at reducing traffic-related injuries and fatalities statewide.

“This program is Georgia’s primary resource for public information and professional training in the use of safety belts, child-safety seats, and safer teen driving” says GTIPI Director Don Bower, a professor in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences.

The Institute’s critical role is evidenced by a grant of $948,400 from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to continue its education and training programs. The grant will allow GTIPI to enhance its influence in the areas of passenger safety, young-driver education, and community programming. It is also exploring a new program for mature drivers called CarFit.

Programs offered by GTIPI related to parents and teens include “Georgia Teens Ride with PRIDE,” the acronym for Parents Reducing Incidents of Driver Error. This program will entail a certification course for volunteer instructors as well as two-hour courses across the state for parents and teens to learn what is needed to acquire and keep a driver’s license.

On-site training will be conducted at GTIPI’s facilities in Conyers, as well as at regional locations throughout Georgia. Programs related to young children will include the 32-hour Child Passenger Safety Technician advanced class, continuing-education units for technicians, and specialized training for the state’s child-care providers.

Many of these courses are designed to enhance the skills of law-enforcement, emergency-medical, health-department, and fire-department personnel, who then serve as important local resources in their communities. Parents and their children will be able to receive free life-saving information from these trained technicians.

In 2007, GTIPI educators provided more than 18,000 hours of child-safety-seat training alone, thereby helping to increase Georgians use of these devices to 89 percent.

Meanwhile, GTIPI’s Resource Center continues to be the primary source statewide for print and electronic traffic-safety information for consumers, educators, and professionals. Materials are available online through “The Online Safety Store,” a joint project of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and GTIPI at the Web site&