As a Vision Zero Outreach Coordinator, I help promote and support North Dakota’s Vision Zero traffic safety initiative to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries caused by motor vehicle crashes on North Dakota roads. Vision Zero aims to establish a culture of personal responsibility where motor vehicle fatalities and serious injuries are recognized as preventable and not tolerated.

Vision Zero has found tremendous success in promoting a culture of personal responsibility through baseball games. We have partnered with the Bismarck Larks, the Souris Valley Sabre Dogs, the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks, and West Fargo Baseball to put a strong emphasis on seat belt use and the dangers of drinking and driving, while encouraging fans to always wear their seat belt and to find a sober ride home through in-game commercials and signage.

We’ve also expanded our traffic safety messages to racetracks across North Dakota through a sponsorship with 30A Goff Racing, Nodak Speedway in Minot, River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, Dacotah Speedway in Mandan, and Sheyenne Speedway in Lisbon. Our messages of driving free from distraction and impairment, as well as buckling up, may seem counterintuitive at a racetrack, however it is just the opposite. Race car drivers can drive fast at the track because they are in a controlled environment free from distraction, impairment and they are properly secured into the vehicle. If race car drivers can use traffic safety in a controlled environment, you can, too, in your daily life -- minus the speed, of course!

These summer partnerships give Vision Zero a year-round presence in North Dakota communities. Vision Zero also partners with colleges and universities and sponsors high school activities throughout the year.

Look for these important traffic safety messages at events you attend this summer and keep them in mind not only when traveling to and from those events, but every day. You can help achieve the Vision Zero goal by taking personal responsibility when traveling. This means wearing a seat belt at all times, transporting children in the appropriate child passenger safety seats, driving distraction-free and sober (i.e. not under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs), and obeying all posted speed limits.

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Kaitlin Atkinson, Vision Zero coordinator, Grand Forks