Researchers collaborating to make Virginia's children safer in cars

Kelli England Will, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, is the lead investigator on a $115,560 grant from Virginia's Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office to help expand safety programs for children, tweens and teens. Dr. Will says the idea is to teach kids about highway safety in a fun, interactive way.

"DMV's Virginia Highway Safety Office is pleased to partner with EVMS on this important outreach effort," says John Saunders, Director of the Highway Safety Office. "Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children and teens, and the programs funded through this grant will help reduce injuries and fatalities."

Three of Dr. Will's programs, already proven successful through empirical evidence, have been distributed to Virginia's 134 school districts. "Boost 'em in the Back Seat" focuses on booster-seat use for children ages 4 to 8+; "Make it Click" increases restraint use among tweens ages 8 to 12; and "In Control: Beyond Distraction" deters distracted driving among teens.

The one-year grant is enabling Dr. Will to help educators implement the programs. Each features a companion website, which can be reached from the landing page, and an easy-to-use toolkit, so educators can replicate and customize the lessons.

"By partnering with the Virginia Department of Education and Department of Health," Mr. Saunders says, "EVMS and Dr. Will are maximizing the impact of their toolkits and websites by creating programs that can be used across the state."