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Safe Communities Program

Walk to School Day
Walk to School Day
Walk to School Day

Alaska's Walk to School program at Scenic Park Elementary School in Anchorage. Photos by Jerrianne Lowther, Volunteer Coordinator Scenic Foothills Community Councils.

Program Goal: To reduce injury and deaths in the community by involving and educating people in prevention strategies

Safe Communities

The U.S. Department of Transportation has made a clear commitment to the philosophy that communities are in the best position to affect improvements in motor vehicle and other transportation-related safety problems. We know that when a community takes ownership of an issue, change happens!

The Safe Communities approach represents a new way community programs are established and managed. All partners participate as equals in developing solutions, sharing successes, assuming risks, and building a community structure and process to continue improvement of community life through the reduction of injuries and costs.

A Safe Community expands resources and partnerships, increases program visibility, and establishes community ownership and support for transportation injury prevention programs. As the Safe Community concept addresses all injuries, transportation and traffic safety becomes positioned within the context of the entire injury problem.

In addition, the Safe Communities approach emphasizes the need to involve the medical, acute care and rehabilitation communities. These groups need to be actively engaged as integral partners in preventing injuries.

Four main characteristics define Safe Communities:

  1. Injury data analysis and (where possible) data linkage
  2. Expanded partnerships, especially with health care providers and businesses 
  3. Citizen involvement and input 
  4. An integrated and comprehensive injury control system. 

The Safe Community approach provides exciting opportunities for transportation safety programs, as well as many payoffs for safety and injury control advocates as we move forward and focus on reducing injuries and saving health care costs. Safe Communities is a unique approach to transportation safety advocacy and motor vehicle injury control. The objective of Safe Communities is to promote community-based solutions to address transportation safety and other injury problems.


Statewide Highway Safety Media Campaign

This grant is for the funding of a Statewide Highway Safety Radio Campaign.  Commercials for the radio campaign will be produced in accordance with the goals of the Alaska Strategic Highway Safety Plan.  This media campaign will try to increase awareness of safety issues associated with our highways and in the long run help reduce traffic related deaths and injuries.  Market Wise will also work with other agencies to combine efforts with the overall goal of preventing highway injuries and fatalities.


Alaska Court System - Operator's Without License (OWL)

A very high percentage of all misdemeanor case filings in the Anchorage District Court are for the charge of Driving While License Suspended, Cancelled or Revoked pursuant to laws of either the State of Alaska or the municipality of Anchorage, In response to this trend, in December of 2007, the Alaska Court System began a special project to expedite the case processing calendar for cases involving defendants without licenses.  This special case processing calendar is modeled after the Iowa Rocket Docket and is entitled the OWL (Operators Without License) Court.

Eligible case types are those in which a defendant is charged with Driving While License Cancelled, Suspended or Revoked (DWLS) and Driving Without a Valid Operator’s License (DWOL) with or without additional charges of Driving Without Insurance (DWI) and/or Failure to Appear in Court and cases which are not eligible for the Municipal Pretrial Diversion program or the State Driver’s compliance program.  The hearings swiftly process cases in which the prosecutor agrees that the DWLS charges will be reduced or dismissed if the defendant obtains a driver’s license.

The above collaborative special case processing coupled with the hands-on judicial supervision has resulted in the re-licensing of 112 participants, However, we believe many more could be re-licensed if they had the assistance of a case manager who could interview each participant, assess what is required for each participant to reinstate their license, assist each participant to problem-solve how they will overcome the barriers to reinstatement, develop relationships with and contact agencies to trouble-shoot the various barriers to reinstatement in each individual case, link participants to resources to pass the written and road tests, report participant progress to the court and maintain data to determine whether this intervention results in better outcomes in the form of increased license reinstatements.  This project would fund such a position, which would be housed at the Anchorage Alcohol Safety Action Program.

We anticipate half of the defendants participating in this project will require substance abuse treatment services,  We hope to gain access for participants of this project by making limited funds available for assessments and initial treatment services (until participants are gainfully employed).  We also suspect some participants will need literacy assistance to pass the written test required in the license reinstatement, and have requested funds to support them in this process,  All financial assistance will be provided on an as-needed basis.



As part of joint effort to develop Traffic Safety Performance Measures for States and Federal Agencies, a Governor Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) working group identified a basic set of questions that could be used in periodic surveys that track driver attitudes and awareness concerning impaired driving, seat belt use, and speeding issues.  GHSA and NHTSA agreed that States would utilize these questions in surveys to be conducted during fiscal year 2010 and that findings would be reported in 2011 Highway Safety Plans.


High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK) Pedestrian Signals

On October 13, 2009, a new type of traffic signal, a HAWK pedestrian signal, was turned on in Juneau on Mendenhall Loop Road at Floyd Dryden Middle School.  The HAWK has proven to be as safe for pedestrians as conventional traffic signals but causes less delay to motorists.  The HAWK will be an approved signal option in the next edition of the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, expected to be published in the fall of 2009.   They have been used successfully for many years in Arizona and other states.

Click here to see the HAWK Pedestrian Signal in Juneau off site link