The Ohio State University Extension’s 4-H Carteens Program is a traffic safety program for first time juvenile traffic offenders. The primary goal of the program is to reduce the number of repeat juvenile traffic offenders with the participant only required to attend once. The Car in Carteens stands for “Caution and Responsibility” while Teens refers to the teenagers who help prepare and present the program. Ohio 4-H Carteens and other vehicular safety education activities have proven to be a valuable tool in educating Ohio’s teen drivers and saving lives on Ohio roads.
The original Carteens Program began in Brown County, Ohio, in 1987 with the support network of Becky Cropper (Brown County 4-H Educator), volunteer teens, the Juvenile Court, and the Ohio Highway Patrol.
In Ottawa County, the 4-H CarTeens Program was established in April of 2008 as a collaborative effort of the 4-H Program, Juvenile Court, and the Sheriff’s Department. Five sessions were conducted in 2008 with a total of 95 youth as participants. Program topics included drinking and driving, traffic laws, consequences of unsafe driving, and tips for safer driving. Teens serve as planners, facilitators, peer counselors, and teachers for the 4-H Carteens sessions. Ottawa County instructors are Molly Hansen, Cory Sandwisch, Alex Wilhelm, Krista Hellwig, Jill Robaskiewicz, Rustyn Stoner, Isaac Puckett, Tyler McNutt, Kelsey Gahler, Ashley Mauder, Kayla Castillo, Amy Shearon, Demi Heiks, Kendra Hetrick, Brad Perry and Drew Wilburn. As teen instructors, they gain leadership, public speaking, and organizational skills. Advisors for the group are Kathy Booher, Becca Maenle and Chuck DeVore.
Over half of the counties in Ohio have 4-H Carteens Programs. Data collected from 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. Many Ohio counties have received an award of honor from the National Safety Council Youth Division in recognition of their 4-H vehicular safety program impact.