Dispatcher: “11-79 (Accident with Ambulance Responding). Northbound 680 at Willow Pass Road. Two vehicles involved, and one is overturned. Fire and ambulance are en route.”
Dispatcher: “Per witnesses, one car was driving recklessly prior to the collision.”
Officer: “10-4 (Message Received). I am en route from northbound 680 at South Main Street.”
Dispatcher: “Per the fire department on scene, alcohol is involved.”
Officer: “I’m 10-97 (Arrived on Scene).”
Officer: “This is going to be a fatal collision. Roll the Coroner for a teenager…”
While this emergency incident is fictional, it is very similar to thousands of accidents that occur throughout California each year. These are true tragedies. Their consequences are sometimes long-lasting but largely preventable. In an effort to save lives and prevent future tragedies, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) utilizes enforcement, engineering, emergency medical services, and education. The educational component is very powerful. Our children are our future. The CHP has developed and participates in several programs for children of all ages. These educational programs alert our youth to the dangers they face as they grow up, like dealing with alcohol and drugs, handling peer pressure, and street racing. The following is an overview of the CHP’s youth programs and services.
CHIPPER is utilized in coloring books and other printed materials in order to bring traffic safety messages to young children. CHIPPER dons a smile and a CHP uniform. The CHP utilizes several CHIPPER outfits for classroom visits and public information events throughout the state.
Red Ribbon Week is an annual event, usually held in October, to increase the public’s awareness of the problems associated with using illicit drugs. The Department shows its support of this program by flying red ribbons from the antennas of all patrol vehicles. Area personnel also participate in local community events featuring this campaign.
Start Smart! is a free class offered statewide to current and prospective teenage drivers and their parents/guardians. This two-hour class discusses important issues such as: tips to avoid collisions, safe driving habits, consequences, victim testimonies, parental roles and responsibilities, and legal ramifications and civil liabilities affecting teen drivers and their parents.
Car accidents are the second leading cause of death among teens (ages 16-19). Many of these accidents do not involve drugs or alcohol, but rather reckless and/or distracted driving. Impact Teen Drivers is a non-profit, public awareness and education program designed to educate teens about the dangers of distracted driving. This website is filled with great videos and information for students, lesson ideas for teachers, and a Memorial Wall to remember friends lost to accidents.
The CHP conducts, free of charge, a one-time, 30–45 minute presentation to middle school students as a means of opening a dialogue about alcohol use, peer pressure, and the risks of drinking and driving. The intent of the program is to jumpstart a discussion so that teachers and parents can continue the dialogue with students long after the presentation is over.
“Sober Graduation” is both a title and an objective. This program was established by the CHP in 1985 and has been recognized internationally as an effective anti-DUI program targeting high school seniors and raising their awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving. Each year the CHP assists participating schools by attending rallies and fund-raisers to disseminate promotional materials with anti-DUI messages. Public Service Announcements (PSAs) showing the consequences of drinking and driving are provided to CHP public information officers for presentation at school rallies. In addition, many public information programs feature accident scene reenactments that offer a strong message to students about the very serious consequences of drinking and driving.
The Every 15 Minutes program is a two-day program focusing on high school juniors and seniors, which challenges them to think about drinking and driving, personal safety, responsibilities, and the impact their decisions have on family, friends, and many others.
The Governor’s Mentoring Partnership (GMP) was created to provide continuing support for California’s youth through mentoring. The goal of the GMP is to encourage strong collaborations regionally to involve whole communities in mentoring efforts to assist our youth. CHP employees are encouraged to participate in these types of youth mentoring programs.
Exploring is designed to provide young adults the opportunity to experience a career in law enforcement by working side-by-side with officers. CHP Explorers assist with non-confidential duties in the office (answering phones, etc.), go on ride-alongs, and participate in parking and traffic control details at parades and special events.
The CHP’s mission is to provide the highest level of safety, service, and security to the citizens of California. Our commitment is to prevent the loss of life, injuries, and property damage. Teen drivers are found at fault in 66% of all fatal collisions they are involved in, although they only represent 4% of the state’s licensed drivers. Our hope is that our youth programs and services will help our youth make good decisions. We strive to make the highways safer for everyone.
Lieutenant Sherry is a 15 year veteran of the CHP. He oversees the field operations of the CHP in Contra Costa County, where he lives with his family. Prior to promotion to Lieutenant, he was the Northern California supervisor with the CHP’s Judicial Protection Section, ensuring security and protection to the California Supreme Court Justices, the California Courts of Appeal Justices, and the Judicial Council. With its 2010 accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), the CHP is the largest accredited state police in the world.
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