‘Ride or die’ campaign focuses on car safety

A campus organization called “Safely Ride or Die” is working to combat the unsafe habit of driving without a seatbelt.

Charles Wright in the Florida A&M University Engineering Technology office has been working on a transportation safety grant for several years now.

Wright said students do not want to restrain themselves.

“I have studied, researched, and conducted focus groups to find out how and what we can do to get students to buckle up,” Wright said.

At a recent workshop, students were asked why they do not wear their seatbelts. The most common answers were, “I don’t want to wrinkle my clothes” and “If it’s my time to die, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

“The students need to be aware of how much a seatbelt can save,” Wright said.

The campaign is focused on FAMU students, specifically males.

“Research from surveys, questionnaires, courses and workshops indicate that crashes often influence people to buckle up,” Wright said. “The point of this program is to get to the students before an actual crash has to encourage them.”

The campaign provides T-shirts, wristbands, book bags and pouches for students. Videos are also being shown all around campus to get students involved with the initiative.

The “Safely Ride or Die” team has been visiting dorms and the Student Government Association to help spread the word.

Dee Jackson, coordinator of the “Safely Ride or Die” campaign said that the team is geared toward increasing safety restraint use and decreasing impaired driving.

“We developed a set of interventions to modify this behavior in students, and hope to save many lives in doing so,” Jackson said.

Wright is sponsoring a campus wide “Safely Ride or Die” T-shirt contest Feb. 22.

Vouchers valued at $100 will be given to students who wear their “Safely Ride or Die” T-shirts. Three vouchers will be given away at the convocation and others will be randomly handed to students walking on campus wearing the T-shirt.

“The purpose of the contest is to get as many students to wear their shirts on Feb. 22 as possible,” Wright said. “We are very diligent about saving lives and we plan to go hard with this initiative.”

The “Safely Ride or Die” team hopes their strategy will make a difference in many lives.

“Something else we plan on stressing to the students is to sign a buckle up pledge. If the students agree to always wear a seatbelt lives can be saved,” Wright said. “We plan on continuing this campaign through spring break because that is the time when students drive recklessly. They want to show off their rides and speed. The students need to be aware of the high risk of car crashes around that time.”

Anrina Payne, 18, a freshman business student from Minnesota, said the initiative is commendable.

“This campaign is a very good way to reach out to the students,” Payne said. “Most people never think to buckle up when driving, especially when their destination is not far. Being reminded every day definitely sticks.”

Wright not only plans on saving lives through repetition, but through facts and statistics.

“Car crashes are the second leading killer of African-American males between the ages of 16-34. ,” Wright said. “What people don’t know is that three to four students die a year from crashes. That means every 10 years we lose a whole class. One loss is one too many and we can do something about this.”