(Newington and Hartford, CT) – Watch for Me CT, a partnership between the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office and the Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center, has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the National Road Safety Foundation to further its ongoing efforts to reduce traffic crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists.The grant is specifically designed to develop a program to recruit and train youth in the Yard Goats Young Ambassadors Program, an afterschool initiative run by the Hartford Yard Goats, a minor league baseball affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. The young people will be trained to teach bicycle and pedestrian safety to their peers, culminating with a community-wide safety event and the creation and distribution of multilingual educational materials. The Young Ambassadors will also receive a complimentary bicycle, helmet, and lights for their commitment to educating their peers.
Traffic crashes are one of the leading causes of death for children in the United States. Almost one-third of all pedestrian fatalities and half of the cyclists killed in crashes were children under age 15, according to an NYU Langone School of Medicine study, which analyzed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics over a 15-year period.In Connecticut, an estimated 1,500 pedestrian and 550 bicyclists are hit by drivers every year.“Whether walking, bicycling, or scooting, youth are at an increased risk when they share the road with drivers,” said Amy Watkins, Program Specialist, Watch for Me CT. “This grant affords us the opportunity to educate our young residents – especially youth in urban communities and communities with low-incomes, which have historically been overlooked – about pedestrian and bicycle safety and reduce crashes and fatalities on our roads and highways.”A surge in dangerous driver behavior during the pandemic – speeding, and impaired and distracted driving – has put the U.S. on track for the deadliest year on the roads in more than a decade. The impact of dangerous driving has fallen disproportionately on Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), as outlined in a 2021 Governors Highway Safety Association study confirming that BIPOC are overrepresented in traffic crash fatalities.“We look forward to continuing our work to improve safety, especially with the youth in communities that have been historically underserved through this proven peer-to-peer learning environment,” Connecticut Department of Transportation Commissioner Joseph Giulietti said. “This program will help a wide range of young people develop critical active mobility safety skills and will encourage broader changes that will benefit all road users.”For more information about pedestrian and bicyclist safety, visit watchformect.org.
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