One accident can change lives forever. Because the dangers of distracted driving are becoming more prominent than ever, Bellevue’s High School students will be working on a campaign to raise awareness and change driving behaviors among their peers.
At the city of Bellevue’s Vision Zero Summit hosted at Overlake Medical Center on Feb. 13, city Councilmember and Deputy Mayor Lynne Robinson announced a partnership between the city, Bellevue School District, and Washington DECA on a new project led by students to promote distracted driving awareness.
“We’re very pleased the city of Bellevue was able to bring these organizations together for an important campaign at saving lives,” said Mayor John Chelminiak in a release.
Tune In/Not Out, otherwise known as TINO, is a student-based project through the DECA program found in the district high schools. At the Summit event, Robinson introduced the concept of TINO and gave time to representatives of the partnered groups to speak about the program. Washington DECA Executive Director Lori Hairston was joined by Bellevue School District Superintendent Ivan Duran and Interlake High School student and DECA officer Olivia Sun in speaking to the audience about the new program.
As part of Vision Zero, the city’s effort to reduce traffic injuries and deaths by 2030, TINO will operate in Bellvue High Schools by conducting surveys to collect data on opinions and behaviors of high school drivers, share stories of people who have been affected by the consequences of a collision due to distracted driving, and host concerts at the high schools to bring students together.
“This is the type of innovation that will help us reach our Vision Zero goal,” Robinson said. “Whether you’re a visitor, worker or student, we like to think Bellevue is the place you want to be — and where you can travel safely.”
To support these efforts, the school district will be working with students to promote and coordinate events and the city of Bellevue will offer communications support for the program as well. Robinson said that the traffic data shows that 25 percent of injury or fatality of accidents involve this age group of drivers, yet they only represent about 11 percent of total drivers in the city.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for American teens. In 2016, 2,433 teens in the United States ages 16-19 were killed and 292,742 were injured. In Bellevue, one in four drives involved in a fatal or serious-injury collision is under 25 years old. On average, someone is killed or seriously injured every 17 days on Bellevue streets.
The theme of Tune In/Not Out is music. Chosen by students, they felt music would provide a platform to get people to come together.
According to Hairston the project has been in the works for 18 months as DECA and students planned out how the campaign would roll out. TINO will begin on Oct. 7 and will culminate on Nov. 3 with a distracted driving awareness concert.
Washington DECA students plan to develop and administer surveys, hold a series of concerts at district high schools, and collect testimonials from victims, friends and families.
The city’s role is to provide communications support for the TINO campaign and to help analyze its impact. TINO also fits well within Bellevue’s Vision Zero effort to eliminate fatal and serious-injury collisions. For Bellevue School District, it provides a way to make a positive difference for the thousands of teenage students who drive to school each day.