Thursday, June 25, 2015

10 safe driving tips to follow for a safe 4th of July

Before leaving, ensure that your vehicle is in good working order. Get a tune up; check tire tread and pressure, oil and fluid levels, working lights and windshield wipers, etc.

Buckle up for safety. In the majority of accidents, seat belts save lives.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50%. Adults who live in rural areas are 10% less likely to wear seat belts (78% usage) than adults who live in urban and suburban areas (87% usage). Also, secure your infants and children in properly fitted car seats and booster seats.

Don’t drink and drive.  All 50 states and the District of Columbia have laws defining driving impaired as a crime with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above a specified level, currently 0.08 percent (0.08 g alcohol per 100 ml blood). According to the CDC, one 12-ounce beer has about the same amount of alcohol as one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Drinking alcohol slows reaction time and impairs judgment and coordination, all skills needed to drive a car safely.  The more alcohol consumed, the greater the impairment. If you drink, don’t drive or make friends with a designated driver who does not imbibe. A 4-day weekend is not an automatic pass to drink and drive.

Observe speed limits.  Allow plenty of time to get to your destination. Most likely you will have to share the road with thousands of other drivers, road construction, and possible rain and summer storms, so get used to it. You’re not in a race. Speeders don’t win.

Stay alert. Take a break when feeling drowsy. Take advantage of rest stops. Drive defensively.

Put the distractions away. Don’t talk on your cell phone while driving. Worse, don’t text while driving. Both require focus. You can only do one well. Program your GPS prior to leaving or while stopped, never while driving. Ask your passenger to change the CD's. Comb your hair and apply makeup upon arrival at your destination never while driving. Don’t eat or open or close food packaging while driving. Other vehicles may be getting in your lane, turning, or slowing down. In-car distractions diminish your chances of driving defensively when you need to most. One or two seconds of distractions can negatively impact your life and the lives of others.

“Thousands and thousands die each year as a result of distracted driving on our nation’s highway,” urges Attorney Joel Feldman, father of a daughter who was killed by a distracted driver. “The death toll rises dramatically during summer months especially for young drivers.  We can all make a difference if we just remember to keep our hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and stop trying to multi -task while we drive.”

Load SUVs properly. When loaded down with additional weight—such as passengers, luggage, and equipment—SUVs become less stable. Compared to most sedans and station wagons, SUVs have a higher center of gravity. With the extra weight, which typically rides above a SUV’s center of gravity, the vehicle can tip over more easily.

Drive cautiously on rural roads. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), more accidents occur on rural roads than other venues.

Secure your pet. Most likely you wear a seat-belt. What about your dog? Cats and dogs should be secured in crates that are secured by straps or bungee cords in the event of a sudden stop. A loose pet or a hurling crate can crash through the windshield. Protect your 4-legged friends.

Act like your life depends on driving defensively. It does.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Iowa Partnership for Success Funds - Community Assessment

The SAFE Coalition is currently working on the Community Assessment phase of the IPFS (Iowa Partnership for Success) Grant. This requires the completion of two key documents, the Community Assessment Workbook (CAW) and the Tri-Ethnic Readiness Survey.

The Community Assessment Workbook (CAW) requires the collection of a variety of data from a variety of sources, some of this is qualitative and some quantitative. Coalition members are working to collect the required data to complete this document and identify the local conditions in the community related to underage drinking and underage binge drinking. The coalition held focus groups the first week of June for community members to provide additional information about the concerns that they have about underage drinking in the community.  The results of the focus groups will be documented in the CAW. 

The Tri-Ethnic Community Readiness Survey requires the coalition to complete 12 interviews with members of the community to gauge their readiness to address the issue of underage drinking. These interviews have now all been completed and are being scored by coalition members.  After the scoring has been completed the final piece will be the completion of the report for this document.  Information on results of this survey will be shared with the coalition and the community upon completion of the entire process.

The next steps for the IPFS Grant will be to use the data collected in the assessment process to determine the capacity that needs to be built as well as identifying local conditions and planning strategies to make community change.  For more information on the Partnership for Success funds you may contact the coalition office at 319-293-6412 or via email at

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Dads, could your kids be at risk for substance abuse?

Families strive to find the best ways to raise their children to live happy, healthy and productive lives.  Parents are often concerned about whether their children will start or are already using drugs such as tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, and others, including the abuse of prescription drugs.  Research supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has shown the important role that parents play in preventing their children from starting to use drugs.

These five questions, developed by the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon, highlight skills that are important in preventing the initiation and progression of drug use among youth.  For each question, there is a video clip on line at that shows positive and negative examples of the skill and additional videos and information are provided to help you practice.  


  1. Are you able to communicate calmly and clearly with your teenager regarding relationship problems?
  2. Do you encourage positive behaviors in your teenager on a daily basis?
  3. Are you able to negotiate emotional conflicts with your teenager and work toward a solution?
  4. Are you able to calmly set limits when your teenager is defiant or disrespectful? Are you able to set limits on more serious problem behavior such as drug use, if or when it occurs?
  5. Do you monitor your teenager to assure that they do not spend too much unsupervised time with peers?

For more information on talking to your teens about substance abuse please contact the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412 or by email at  For other resources please checkout the coalition’s website at or on Facebook – Van Buren County SAFE Coalition or on the coalition’s blog at

Article and data provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse Website. 


  1. Dishion, T.J.; Nelson, N.E.; Kavanagh, K. The Family Check-Up with high-risk young adolescents: Preventing early-onset substance use by parent monitoring. Behavior Therapy 34: 553-571, 2003.
  2. Dishion,T.J.; Kavanagh, K.;  Schneiger, A.;  Nelson, S.; Kaufman, N.K. Preventing early adolescent substance use: A family-centered strategy for the public middle school. Prevention Science 3 (3): 191-201, 2002.

2014 Iowa Youth Survey Results

The Iowa Youth Survey is conducted by the Iowa Department of Public Health's Division of Behavioral Health in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Education, the Governor’s Office of Drug Control Policy, the Iowa Department of Human Rights’ Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning and Statistical Analysis Center, and the Iowa Department of Human Services.
In the fall of 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014 students in the 6th, 8th, and 11th grades across the state of Iowa answered questions about their attitudes and experiences regarding alcohol and other drug use and violence, and their perceptions of their peer, family, school, and neighborhood/community environments.  In 2008 the survey was administered online for the first time.
The 2014 Iowa Youth Survey county reports are designed to help local and state-level planners, community agencies, and school personnel identify youth development needs, implement relevant, targeted interventions, and assess outcomes. IYS data can assist in providing a better understanding of students in Iowa and their needs. It can also help to assess the strengths and challenges of schools, families, and communities from the young person’s perspective. In addition, IYS data may be used to obtain funding for a wide variety of programs and services. The Iowa Youth Survey has proven to be a valuable resource in youth needs assessment, program development, implementation, and outcome evaluation.

The Van Buren County SAFE Coalition has seen remarkable results in youth alcohol and tobacco use over the last 12 years based on Iowa Youth Survey results. The SAFE Coalition has been focusing primarily on reducing youth alcohol and marijuana use and the below charts show the trends from 2002-2014 related to these two substances. You may obtain a full copy of the Iowa Youth Survey at: or by contacting the SAFE Coalition at 319-293-6412.