Keep Kids Alive: Drive 25 representative Tom Everson made a safety presentation on Tuesday, Sept. 30 at the Haddonfield Middle School. Haddonfield resident Michael Bonnette asked Everson to give some information about his organization and traffic safety after Bonnette had been experiencing some speed limit and traffic violations on his road.
“It’s not safe. It’s scary. Too many people a day are injured in traffic accidents,” Bonnette said.
Everson made his presentation in front of residents including Police Chief Ted Stuessy and Commissioner Neal Rochford. Everson told those in attendance that it takes a community-wide effort for traffic safety campaigns to work. However, it needs to start with each individual person and their behavior and the decisions they make behind the wheel.
“Our mission is to make streets safer for all who walk, ride, play and drive,” Everson said. “These tragedies, to me, they are avoidable. I rarely use the word accident. I like to use the word incident because to me these accidents aren’t accidents. Somebody’s speeding, riding through a stop sign, talking on the cellphone, etc.”
Keep Kids Alive: Drive 25 is a non-profit organization that targets traffic education issues. Started in 1998, it began focusing on the speed limit in residential areas.
Everson said he was concerned about the traffic on his home street in Omaha, Neb., at the time. Then, one day, while he was out jogging around his neighborhood, he got the idea for the organization.
“Many think that the solution to all speeding problems is speed bumps, but I thought there must be another way to do this,” Everson said.
Everson found that speeding was the №1 complaint throughout the city of Omaha. So he proposed his Keep Kids Alive: Drive 25 idea, and the police encouraged him to take the logo he created to use for the campaign. Everson did just that and chose to do an observational study himself. He looked for brake lights whenever someone passed by his house. He found roughly 75 percent of people who drove by were braking.
From there, others in the city and online took up his idea and it spread. He was hearing from states all across the country.
The Keep Kids Alive: Drive 25 has been successful across many states and made its name known. The wife of a “Modern Family” producer even asked for some signs to put in the television show.
“‘Modern Family’ called me a couple of years ago and said, ‘Can you send us one of your signs to put on our show?’ The producer’s wife has been very involved in our campaign out in Los Angeles for about 10 years,” Everson
Keep Kids Alive: Drive 25 isn’t just about its name. Under the organization are No Need to Speed, Be Aware: Drive with Care, Stop: Take 3 To See and more. Not all the signs and phrases work for each community, so there are decals as well. One successful safety campaign was getting trashcan decals that people would see when taking out their trash and when driving by the trashcans on trash day.
“If you want to create an educational initiative in your community, it really does take a lot of collaboration. Get city officials involved, schools, neighborhood groups and businesses involved,” Everson said.
Rochford said Haddonfield’s school district has a Distracted Drivers Club that has done quite a bit for the community, including donating signs and banners to run across Kings Highway on occasion as a reminder to drive safe. But the citizens who attended seem to want more.
“I think that Haddonfield’s unique problem is that it is a community that everybody cuts through. It has a lot of traffic. Hopefully, we can work with the county and borough about getting signs or the trashcan decals to put up, just as a reminder to get people to slow down,” Bonnette said.
Stuessy said if people see someone speeding or frequent traffic violations on their road, they can call the police dispatch number and, for general questions, call the police desk at the station. Whether any of the Keep Kids Alive: Drive 25 campaigns will be incorporated into the borough has yet to be determined. For more information, visit www.keepkidsalivedrive25.org