Ollie Otter is continuing his quest for high fives from students across the state of Tennessee with a visit to several elementary schools in La Vergne next week. The mascot is promoting the use of seat belts and booster seats, as well as raising awareness about roadway construction site safety and students being good passengers in order for drivers to pay attention.
Ollie Otter is scheduled to visit Rock Springs Elementary on December 16, Roy Waldron Elementary and La Vergne Primary School on December 17, and La Vergne Lake Elementary on December 18.
The statewide safety education program has made presentations in all 95 counties in Tennessee and is now crossing state borders. Ollie Otter has trekked to over 1,700 elementary schools and delivered over 500,000 high-fives to children across Tennessee in the name of safe riding since 2006.
The Ollie Otter program communicates that Tennessee state law requires the use of a booster seat until a child is 4-feet-9 inches tall or nine years old. An orange and white construction barrel, representing Ollie's home, is on display to teach the children the importance of highway safety near construction work zones. The children were told to ask their parents to "Please slow down!" when they see construction barrels or road builders on the roads.
With the help of the La Vergne City Police Department and the Tennessee Highway Patrol, Ollie Otter will teach the children about "Belts to Bones," which parts of the body the seat belt should hit when properly buckled up- the collarbone, the sternum, and rest low on the hipbones. Volunteers from the crowd will also measure to show the students the height differences between those who need to be in a booster seat and those who do not.
There is no question that child passenger safety has become more of a priority within the state. As of 2012, thirty-two Tennessee counties have logged data stating that restraint use is greater than 97 percent when children are involved in crashes. Eight counties boast 100 percent stats on child restraint use during crashes. This is a staggering increase from the mere nine counties that had greater than 97 percent restraint use in 2007.
The Ollie Otter program uses educational materials, such as measuring posters, bookmarks, and an interactive Web site, to inform children and their caregivers nationwide about seat belt and booster seat safety.
The program is sponsored by several organizations, including the Ollie Otter Child Safety Foundation - a non-profit group established by the Tennessee Road Builders Association (TRBA) - and the TRBA Ladies Auxiliary. Additional sponsors include the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT, formerly Tennessee Technology Centers) the Tennessee Board of Regents Online Campus Collaborative (ROCC), and the Governor’s Highway Safety Office. The Governor’s Highway Safety Office has been integral in the inception and continued success of the Ollie Otter program.