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The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Award

The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Awards recognize notable achievements in the field of highway safety during the prior calendar year by individuals, coalitions, organizations, nonprofit groups, businesses, government agencies, universities or programs. About Peter K. O'Rourke

2008 Winner: West Virginia LifeSavers Program

All 2008 Highway Safety Award Winners

West Virginia LifeSavers Program

West Virginia's LifeSavers Program is a homegrown, creative solution to improving seat belt use that has demonstrated its effectiveness when combined with other behavioral countermeasures.

In 2000, West Virginia had the second lowest seat belt use rate in the nation at 49 percent. With the implementation of Click It or Ticket (CIOT) and the West Virginia LifeSavers program, the state's belt use rates climbed to a staggering 89 percent by 2007. This is a dramatic achievement given that West Virginia's seat belt law is secondary. This increase in belt use has also resulted in a steady decline in injuries.

The LifeSavers program is designed to increase officer motivation and participation in the CIOT enforcement campaign. Historically, only larger law enforcement agencies have been recognized for their seat belt enforcement efforts. Unlike these traditional incentive programs, the West Virginia LifeSavers program centers on positive reinforcement for individual officers. This innovative approach recognizes any officer, regardless of the size of his or her agency.

Awards are issued using a tiered system: officers receive increasingly valuable awards based on their cumulative enforcement efforts. Participating officers do not know what levels of enforcement are needed for each award, thus eliminating the perception of enforcement "quotas."

Another unique aspect of the program is its use of a weighted scoring system, which allows officers from small and very small agencies to have an equal opportunity to receive the awards. Additionally, all participating officers are tracked by individual name rather than agency. Therefore, when members move to another agency within the state, their individual credits can continue to accumulate.

For the modest cost of $40,000 a year in federal funds, the West Virginia LifeSavers program provides a unique opportunity to unite nearly 1,000 officers from more than 125 different agencies to work independently toward a common goal of saving lives and reducing the number of serious injuries on West Virginia highways.

For more information, contact program coordinator Roland Jones at rjonesghs@suddenlinkmail.com.