4-H CARTEENS is a traffic safety program conducted by 4-H teen leaders and their program partners for juvenile traffic offenders. 4-H CARTEENS goals include: 

  • reducing the number of repeat juvenile traffic offenders,
  • decreasing the number of teen traffic offenders, and
  • increasing teen awareness of traffic/vehicular safety.

4-H CARTEENS Background

For more than a century, the Ohio State University Extension (OSU Extension) 4-H Youth Development Program has helped people help themselves through educational programs and activities in each of Ohio’s 88 counties. OSU faculty and staff located in county Extension offices recruit and engage adult volunteers and teen leaders who provide leadership to educational programs for youth in local communities. Over the years, extensive county needs assessments conducted by Ohio State University Extension repeatedly identified teen vehicular safety as a priority need in Ohio’s communities.

The 4-H CARTEENS vehicular safety initiative was developed in response to this need. The original CARTEENS Program began in Brown County, Ohio in 1987 with the support network of Becky Cropper (Brown County OSU Extension 4-H Educator), volunteer teen leaders, the juvenile probate court, and the Ohio Highway Patrol. Since 1987, the 4-H CARTEENS program has expanded throughout Ohio and to several other states across the nation.

The “Car” in CARTEENS stands for “Caution And Responsibility”, and “Teens” refers to the teenagers who help prepare and present the program. In CARTEENS programs, 4-H teen leaders teach traffic education safety programs to first-time teen traffic offenders, while also building offenders’ self-esteem and interpersonal skills. Teen traffic offenders attending this program have typically been cited for speeding, stop sign violations, reckless operation, and other, similar moving violations. CARTEENS program topics include excessive speed, driving under the influence, seat belt safety use, consequences of unsafe decisions, dealing with peer pressure, understanding traffic laws, and recognizing and reacting to traffic signs and signals.

Ohio 4-H CARTEENS has proven to be a valuable tool in educating Ohio’s teen drivers and saving lives on Ohio roads. In addition, communities are strengthened by bringing together teens and adults representing local agencies and organizations that are working to address this need. Teens also gain leadership, public speaking, and organizational skills. Data collected from 4-H CARTEENS participants indicate a significant reduction in second-time traffic offenses, increased use of safety belts, reduced drinking and driving, and an increased use of caution when driving. More than 80 percent of the participants in a recent survey said they planned to use more caution when driving and will increase their use of seat belts. Many Ohio counties have received an award of honor from the National Safety Council Youth Division in recognition of their program impacts.

Why is CARTEENS Important? - Facts About Teen Driving

  • In 2008, 81 teen drivers, 43 teen passengers, and 7 teen pedestrians were killed in fatal car crashes in Ohio.
  • Traffic accidents are the number one cause of death among American teens.
  • Ohio teen drivers were involved in more traffic crashes than any other age group in 2008.
  • Teen drivers were involved in 189 fatal crashes, 20,101 injury traffic crashes, and 54,067 property damage crashes in Ohio in 2008. Most of these accidents were caused by driver error.
  • Lack of driving experience is the most significant factor in the high number of teen crashes.
  • Only 39.6% of the teens killed in Ohio traffic accidents in 2008 were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.

Source: 2008 Traffic Crash Facts, Ohio Dept. of Public Safety

Kathryn C. Pepple , Ph.D
Extension 4-H Specialist, Youth Development


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