Safe Moves, a non-profit organization, is recognized as the leading authority in traffic safety education in the country. Safe Moves has not only been credited with saving thousands of children’s lives through education, but also through legislation with new traffic safety laws.
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Safe Moves is conducting WHEEL SMARTS, a driver awareness program for middle and high school students in the City of Los Angeles. WHEEL SMARTS consists of workshops that are interactive exercises allowing students to examine motor vehicle crash sites. Students are provided an opportunity to discuss how the crashes happened and why the crashes happened -- therefore understanding how motor vehicle crashes can be prevented.

The crash sites are replicated in “Safe Moves City” which is miniature city featuring traffic signs, traffic signals, railroad crossings, streets, sidewalks, intersections, crosswalks, a residential area and a business district.

“Safe Moves City” features four (4) collision sites where the victims are situated to represent the location of the crashes in relationship to the crashed vehicles and the surrounding environment. Crashed cars are placed in the position of impact to add realism to the crash site. Witnesses (student actors) are available on the scene to discuss what they saw.

Teens are organized in groups and given collision reports to complete for each crash site. Law enforcement officers and Safe Moves instructors are at each crash site to provide the basic information on each collision including the age of the victim,
the day of the week and the time of day. Law enforcement officers describe what happens to the drivers and the victims. The teens must review the information, review the crash site, interview the witnesses and complete the report with details on how the crash happened and why.

After the reports are completed for each crash site, the teens are lead in a discussion by Safe Moves staff to determine if their conclusions were correct and how the collisions could have been avoided. Solutions are discussed on what countermeasures can be taken by teens, parents, law enforcement, schools, the community and city governments to prevent traffic-related deaths and injuries.

Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the Business, Transportation and Housing Authority.Car SmartZ - THE MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL DRIVER AWARENESS




Statement of the Problem

Proposed Countermeasure

Background Information on "Safe Moves"
What the Experts Say About "Safe Moves"




Statement of the Problem

Alcohol related traffic collisions are the leading cause of death of young drivers between the ages of 16 and 18.

Young people's lack of driving experience renders them less likely than more experienced drivers to cope successfully with hazardous traffic situations. A penchant for risk-taking behavior such as speeding and overestimating their driving skill can be dangerous. When combined with a tendency to underestimate the dangerous consequences of such behaviors these practices can contribute to the high crash rate among young drivers.

The combination of the lack of experience as drivers and the use of alcohol when operating a vehicle has caused DUI related vehicle collisions to be the number one cause of death among teens between 16 and 18 years of age.  In 2004, 78 teens between the ages of 16 and 18 were killed and 747 were seriously injured in Los Angeles County due to DUI related vehicle crashes. 

Young drivers make up only 6.7% of total driving populations, but these same young drivers constitute 20% of all alcohol/drug related crashes.


Drinking alcohol is particularly dangerous for young people because their bodies are still developing.

When the physical effects of alcohol are coupled with emotional immaturity and inexperience, the effects on young drinkers can be devastating. Alcohol can be a depressant and is a neurotoxin. Alcohol alters and kills brain cells and can adversely affect an individual’s ability to form new memories. This can be especially significant for young people who are in school and should be assimilating new information daily.

Females take special risks when they drink because they lack a stomach enzyme that males possess and because they have a lower total body water content. As a result of these physiological differences, females are affected more quickly and more strongly than males who ingest the same amount of alcohol.


Alcohol impairs physical and mental coordination.

When impairment is linked with the risky activities young people sometimes undertake when they are drinking, such as driving, walking on balcony railings, or swimming, tragedy often results. Sometimes, intoxicated youth injure or kill themselves in fires, falls, boating accidents, or other tragedies that might have been avoided if they were sober. Not only is judgment impaired, but “blackouts” can occur, where the person is not responsible at the time and remembers nothing later when they are sober.


Many young people do not realize that ingesting too much alcohol can be fatal.

Binge drinking (consuming five or more drinks on one occasion) is a particularly dangerous form of drinking. According to the 1999 Monitoring the Future study of substance use, conducted on behalf of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 30% of U.S. high school seniors report they are binge drinkers. Binge drinking is a widely recognized problem on college campuses. These young people ingest large amounts of alcohol at one time and drink very rapidly. This can create dangerous overdoses of alcohol and lead to death.


Underage drinking can impede one of the most critical tasks of adolescence — the development of coping skills.

As they grow older, young people must learn how to deal with the ordinary stresses of everyday life and with occasional crises. The teenage years are recognized to be especially stressful and can feel overwhelming to young people. Alcohol can cause dangerous depressive effects. In addition, if young people substitute the sedative effects of alcohol (or any other mind-altering drug) for the development of coping skills, they can actually impair their emotional development.


Alcohol alters behavior and reactions.

Drinking can cause individuals to lose their inhibitions and be willing to engage in behavior they might not embrace if they were sober. When young people begin to drink illegally, they often keep that behavior a secret from their parents and other adults. Experts believe that engaging in covert behavior may contribute to young people being more willing to break other “taboos”. 

Underage drinking is linked to reckless sexual behavior, including date rape and unprotected sex. These practices can lead to pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases including Herpes and HIV.


The earlier young people start drinking, the greater the chances of developing alcohol dependence.

Research released by the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse (NIAAA) in 1998 shows that young people who drink before they reach age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence (alcoholism) than those who begin drinking at age 21. The likelihood of such young drinkers later becoming alcohol abusers (which repeatedly causes life problems, but without addiction) is doubled.

Today, many young people are drinking heavily in middle school, long before they reach age 15. According to the 1999 NIDA Monitoring the Future Study, 24% of 8th graders report using alcohol and 9.4% have been impaired in the past thirty days. Some of those young people are experiencing serious problems with alcohol by the time they enter high school. Preventing young people from drinking as minors may keep them from becoming adult problem drinkers whose alcohol-related behavior could affect their workplaces, families, and adult driving. Preventing underage drinking by minors today may also help to reduce long-term health care costs and criminal justice costs to society by reducing the crimes, injuries, and crashes.

The expanding science of prevention seeks to stop the tragedies associated with underage drinking before they occur by creating a climate in which young people do not drink alcohol before they attain the minimum drinking age of 21. With so many lives at stake, the effort devoted to prevention is clearly worthwhile. 


Proposed Countermeasure

In the past, programs designed to prevent minors from drinking often focused primarily on short term goals, such as preventing high school students from driving impaired during prom and graduation season. Recent research has expanded links between underage drinking, adult alcoholism, and problem drinking. We now know that preventing young people from drinking may save them from harm in their youth, including death and injury to themselves and others in alcohol related vehicle crashes.    In addition, early prevention may save many of these young people them from embarking on a lifetime of alcohol and drug use and its related problems. There are many different reasons in addition to vehicle crashes to prevent the epidemic of underage drinking.

During the last fifteen years, theories and practices in prevention have evolved dramatically. Effective prevention programs no longer focus only on providing knowledge about alcohol and drugs. Newer efforts emphasize programs and policies that shape knowledge, beliefs and behavior with non-traditional education programs. These are programs that teens can relate to in addition to providing necessary information.


“Wheel Smartz” An Innovative Awareness Program for Teens

Many communities are working to shape a response to the problem of underage drinking. Of particular concern is the number of teens who drive while under the influence alcohol and other drugs.  Educational programs implemented in schools often yield encouraging, but limited results.  Many teen offenders are undeterred by ineffective or nonexistent enforcements. They are apparently unfazed by the potential life threatening and legal consequences of their actions.

Research shows that conventional forms of education are not effective in educating teens.  Studies show that lecturing teens on the dangers of driving under the influence does not impact their behavior or their choices.  Teens need to experience the situations, the consequences and the emotional impact in order to change their behaviors.  An opportunity to experience a situation can provide teens with the motivation to change their behavior and a make a safer choice. 

“Wheel Smartz” is a theatrical program providing a venue for teens to explore their own behaviors and choices about the issue of driving under the influence.  “Wheel Smartz” includes workshops for students grade and plays produced by the school drama departments for schools in the community.

The goal of “Wheel Smartz” is to make youth a part of the solution and not just the problem. “Wheel Smartz” will use theater to not only change lives, but to save lives.



Pat Hines, a graduate of University of Miami Medical school and former Vice President of RKO Radio, founded Safe Moves in 1983 as a tribute to her friend Sue Latham who was hit by a car while they were training for the 1984 Olympics in bicycling. Ms. Hines speaks throughout the world on traffic safety issues as it pertains to children.  She is author of many books and articles on children’s safety and was recognized by President Bill Clinton as a leader in the area of traffic safety education for children.

Safe Moves, a non-profit organization, is now recognized as the leading authority in traffic safety education in the country.  Safe Moves has not only been credited with saving thousands of children’s lives through education, but also through legislation. 

Safe Moves has been featured in local and national news including
”The Today Show”, “Good Morning, America”, “20/20”, “Dateline” and “Oprah” as well as in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Newsweek, Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated.

Safe Moves has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors for its work in the field of traffic and bicycle safety.  A sample of these awards includes:

United States Department of Transportation “Safety Program of the Year”

United States Department of Health Services “Prevention Program of the Year”

"Helen Putnam Award for Excellence" from the California League of Cities

Selected as the most effective bicycle and pedestrian programs by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals for national "A Best Practices Report" prepared for the Federal Highway Administration



Ms. Hines’ reputation for providing high quality programming into to schools speaks for itself.  Read what educators have to say about Safe Moves: 

 “Traffic collisions are one of the leading causes of death for children and Safe Moves is the most effective program existing that addresses this issue and has the ability to affect change in the behaviors of children.”
Richard Scheider
Program Coordinator
Center for Disease Control – Atlanta, GA

“Traffic in California is more dangerous than ever before for children.  Safe Moves has saved thousands of lives among our youngest citizens in schools throughout California.”
Jack Champlin
Director – California
National Highway Transportation Safety Administration

“Safe Moves has been an integral part of our efforts to improve the safety of children in Los Angeles for more than 20 years.”
Chief William Bratton
Los Angeles Police Department
Los Angeles
, California

“With over 400,000 elementary school children in the Los Angeles Unified School District, we need innovative programs to reach these kids.  Safe Moves fits the bill each and every year with their traffic safety program.”
Carol Takaki
Student Traffic Safety Coordinator
Los Angeles Unified
School District

“The kids love it, the teachers love it and it works.  Safe Moves knows how teach traffic safety in a fun, effective and entertaining way.”
David Tokofsky
Los Angeles Unified
School District
Board Member

“We have had a relationship with Safe Moves for over 10 years. They have been crucial to generating community awareness of our services”
Merry Banks
Education Coordinator
Automobile Club of California

“Behavior changes are only made by effective programs. Safe Moves is the best I have ever seen at improving the skills and awareness of kids when they are in traffic.”
Nick Carr
Coordinator of Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs,
City of San Francisco