Learning the right habits early is crucial. That’s why Operation Click’s expanding efforts to keep area students safe while driving are commendable.
The nonprofit’s cornerstone remains teaching young drivers to wear seat belts. But the effort has expanded to address other driving distractions, such as texting while driving, in 49 high schools in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.
The group’s data show that schools within the program have consistently improved, percentage-wise, in seat-belt use. At District 155’s four high schools – Crystal Lake Central, Crystal Lake South, Prairie Ridge and Cary-Grove – that improvement has been from 65 percent to 95 percent compliance since the program began in 1998. A program that can effectively and responsibly make the population safer, funded by donations, is a good thing.
One of the main incentives of the program is giving away a car to several area students who comply with a contract they sign that stipulates seat-belt use at all times, a commitment not to drink and drive, and a promise to avoid traffic convictions.
Last year, five students were awarded vehicles, donated by local companies. Every area chapter reported 95 percent or higher seat-belt use among students.
That was not true when the program began. Of the four schools reporting less than 90 percent seat-belt use, two are part of the new Huntley chapter, which includes Huntley, Dundee-Crown, Jacobs, Hampshire and Marengo high schools.
That shows that expansion efforts have an opportunity to make a meaningful impact for area students. For that initiative, we applaud Operation Click’s efforts as a local group making a difference.