Distance Learning Is the New Normal: What TTI’s Youth Transportation Safety Program Is Doing for Young Drivers

U in the Driver Seat college health and wellness peer-educator groups are encouraged to play Kahoot! and host a trivia game with peers to test their knowledge on impaired driving.

During the school year, the TTI Center for Transportation Safety’s Youth Transportation Safety (YTS) program is active in schools and communities across the country, supporting peer-led road safety education and outreach. However, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and subsequent school closures for the rest of the academic year, the YTS program staff has adapted their in-school programs to accommodate distance learning. Much like teachers across the country, the YTS team has had to find creative ways to produce innovative content that still reaches their target audience — teens and college-aged youth — and supports youth sharing an even greater amount of digital safety messaging with one another.

What did YTS do to shift to a distance learning program? They focused on providing resources to their constituents virtually.

During a typical school year, YTS staff — who are all Certified Peer Program Educators — go into schools and give presentations providing hands-on education activities about traffic safety. Continuing to educate and empower their constituents was a significant goal for the staff when creating a distance learning program. To advance education virtually, the team turned to YouTube to create TDS Talks, a YouTube video series covering the top teen driver risks. The videos are less than 15 minutes each. | Check out TDS Talks

YTS staff also targeted youth where they spend most of their time — on social media. Using Teens in the Driver Seat (TDS), a YTS program that empowers teens to change unsafe behaviors effectively, the team significantly ramped up their social media efforts. The social media strategy focuses on engaging and providing transportation safety information to students, parents, teachers, and partners by facilitating easy ways for these community partners to share content with others.

Teens in the Driver Seat hosted the #CallingAllRoadUsers twitter chat which received 242 tweets with a reach of 129,615 users.

On April 9, TDS hosted a pedestrian and bicycle Twitter chat using #CallingAllRoadUsers. This Twitter chat focused on pedestrian and bicycle safety, allowing teens to learn from experts in the field. TDS held a second Twitter chat on April 21 focused on big rig and bus safety. Partners, teens, and truck drivers participated in the conversation using #RespectTheRig. Both Twitter chats were well received and provided a platform connected teens with safety experts.

TDS further expanded its social media outreach efforts using Instagram TV (IGTV) to deliver weekly program updates, educational videos, and motivational messaging to teens. Along with IGTV, TDS is producing weekly Instagram story challenges and adapted messaging for its social media audience. | Follow TDS Updates via Instagram

The YTS team developed trivia challenges using Kahoot! a trivia platform for students. These challenges offer a fun educational opportunity highlighting impaired driving and top teen driver risks for teachers, parents, and teens. The team also prepared a Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Digital Learning Toolkit with a recorded presentation; Kahoot! Trivia; activity sheets; and supplemental education materials.

For college-aged constituents, the U in the Driver Seat (UDS) program also used Kahoot! Trivia, which allows students and teachers to present digital trivia to members of their organizations. They can also access social media toolkits to assist schools in drunk- and drugged-driving education initiatives. With shelter-in-place orders varying state to state, YTS staff prepared a digital toolkit for their constituents to virtually support the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Prevention Week, May 10–16, 2020.

The YTS team is working hard to ensure that their constituents are still receiving transportation safety information, much as they would in the classroom or one-on-one in the community — but now they can get it in the comfort of their own homes.

Mission: The Youth Transportation Safety Program saves lives and prevents injury among youth through education, empowerment, and peer-led outreach. Our vision is to ensure that America’s youth live long and healthy lives through safe practices on our transportation system.

Watch the TDS Talks Risk Videos presented by Teens in the Driver Seat’s certified peer educators, who cover the top teen driver risk factors.