Safety City is a traffic safety program for school children that uses a simulated New York City street to teach children about traffic safety through hands-on experience. Many of Safety City's programs are supported by the Safe Streets Fund, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of preventable death for New York City children between the ages of 5 and 14 years old. In addition, more than 2,200 children in this age group were injured as pedestrians on New York City streets in 2003, more than 2,500 were injured in 2002 and more than 2,800 were injured in 2001. The City's children can be at risk as they walk to and from school, ride in cars and buses, and drive bicycles, frequently without the supervision of an adult.
Goals and Objectives
The goal of the Safety City program is to help prevent injuries to children. Specific objectives include:
- Building children's self-esteem and encouraging them to take responsibility for their own safety.
- Encouraging children to share the traffic safety information they learn with friends, family members and others in the community.
- Providing children with the information they need to intervene on behalf of others.
- Reducing preventable traffic injuries and fatalities in the community by involving community groups and volunteers in the educational process.
Activities at Safety City
Safety City uses both traditional classroom education and hands-on practice in an outdoor realistic yet protected street and intersection. At Safety City's Indoor Learning Center, participating students from community schools take part in activities designed to build self-esteem and strengthen their ability to make safer choices. The classroom experience includes informational videos and up-to-date learning materials. Outdoors, students practice their safety skills on a fenced-in street and intersection. The area has realistic pavement markings, traffic and pedestrian signals and street signs. The children practice crossing the street safely in a variety of situations. Access Safety City on West 158th Street in Manhattan also serves older adults and people of all ages with special needs.
Safety City's instructors are specially trained traffic safety experts from DOT's Office of Safety Programs. Police officers, traffic enforcement agents, health care providers and school crossing guards also instruct the children at Safety City, reminding them to use their safety skills.
Classroom teachers reinforce what the children have learned by conducting follow-up activities. The children become "Safety Deputies" by sharing what they have learned and spreading the safety message beyond the classroom into the community. Safety City's central message, that every child has the power to make safe decisions, can also be applied to other health issues, such as nutrition and substance abuse. Junior and senior high school students are encouraged to serve as role models and assist with operations at Safety City, and graduates of the program can return as interns and volunteers.
The first Safety City opened at P.S. 92 in Central Harlem in 1990. Thousands of children have visited Safety City during its years of operation. In that time, the number of children admitted to Harlem Hospital for motor vehicle-related injuries has been reduced by 50 percent.
Safety City has been recognized nationally with awards from the Ford Foundation/Harvard University Innovations in Government Program, the American Automobile Association and the Allstate Safety Leadership Program.
A survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association and Prevention Magazine calls New York the best City for walking in the U.S. and credits the City's traffic safety programs.
Safety City Locations
- In Manhattan at Access Safety City, at 672 West 158 Street, 212-839-4750
- In the Bronx at 837 Brush Avenue, at Lafayette Avenue and Westchester Creek, 212-839-2617 or 2618