A Plea to Huntley Adults and a Suggestion of What Can Be Done to Save Teen Lives

Huntley is  in mourning the death of 19-year old Jennifer Kearns.

She was thrown from a car on the way to Donley’s Banquet Hall south of Union last night.

Kearns was not wearing a seat belt.

Neither were any of the other recently-graduated high school students.

All I could think of was how this could have been prevented by Huntley adults.

Remember that rash of teen car crash deaths during the nineties?

Well, Crystal Lake Police’s Community Service Officer Sean McGrath and community volunteers took notice and did something about it.

This the car in which former Crystal Lake Pontiac owner Sam Oginni's daughter survived. It is unknown whether the new owner of Crystal Lake Buick-GMC will continue Oginni's annual car donation to Operation Click.

They created an organization designed to use incentives to convince high schoolers to buckle their seat belts.

It’s now called “Operation Click.”

It works like this.

Teens are asked to sign a contract which includes seat belt use.

Several times a year, police check seat belt use.

If students at a high school reach the 90% seat belt compliance level, one of the teen contract signers get a chance to win a car.

Above the 95% level and two students get a chance at getting transportation.

In more prosperous times, it was a new car, but a good used car is certainly enough incentive.

Is someone in Huntley or Marengo willing to donate such a car to help make it less likely that someone in the current generation of Huntley or Marengo High School students don’t end up being killed in a car crash next year?

I’m told the kids can really get into it.

That’s because besides the “grand” prize, there are little rewards for good behavior.

One Crystal Lake teen who was being driven to school by his mother was stopped by the police.

She couldn’t figure out what she was doing wrong.

Her son was overjoyed as the police officer approached the car.

Here are the results of Operation Click during the early years of the program.

‘Mom, I’m going to get something,” was the gist of his comment.

And, because he was wearing his seat belt he was given a $5 coupon to McDonald’s or The Freeze or some other fast food restaurant supporting Operation Click.

AAA is the major sponsor of Operation Click, which makes me believe that the organization will go nationwide.

School who participate get $2,000, just as in a competing program sponsored by another insurance company.

The difference is that Operation Click comes with performance measures.

Here are the results for District 155 last year. Two students from each school got a shot at winning a car.

Peer pressure and the incentives drive seat belt use up.

I remember the reaction of House Republican Leader Tom Cross when the horrendous crash occurred in Kendall County.  He did what legislators do.

He introduced a bill.

Oh, that he had encouraged Yorkville and Oswego High School parents to start an Operation Click chapter.

That would have attacked the problem in a way where progress could be measured.

No high school in Kendall County belongs to Operation Click.

All of the participating schools were above the 95% compliance level in 2011.

Every participating school had over 95% seat belt compliance in 2011.

Can Huntley or Marengo High School parents and community members believe that is the case in their towns?

Sean McGrath explaining the program on ABC.

How about those living in other non-participating areas?

You can see the progress over the years by clicking here.

You can read more about the program in these articles:

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