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S.E.A.T. Program Helping to Keep Young Drivers and Passengers Safe


Driving while distracted simulation with one student The S.E.A.T. demonstration The S.E.A.T. bus outside the capitol building
Students inside The S.E.A.T. bus doing driving simulation The S.E.A.T. bus driving down the road The S.E.A.T. demonstration set up outside

S.E.A.T. Program Helps to Keep Young Motorists Safe

Over the course of the past year, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office has been working on a new interactive approach towards teaching children and young adults about ways to be safe while driving or riding in vehicles.

The name of the project is “The S.E.A.T.” (an acronym for Safer Education About Traveling), encompasses many different components including the S.A.F.E. (Seatbelts Are For Everyone) Program, which has already proven successful with seatbelt usage rates among high school students in Cherokee County rising 4.5% last year, alone.

The S.E.A.T. campaign has served as a springboard for new and innovative ideas to continue educating young drivers about the hazards of driving, and how wearing your safety belt decreases the likelihood of severe injury, should the driver be involved in a crash.

An early supporter of the project was Columbus USD 493, who donated a mini-bus to the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office, in order for equipment and training materials to be easily and safely transported to various schools and community events.

After receiving the bus, it was modified with the assistance of the Coffeyville Community College and the Cherokee County Road and Bridge Department. During the modification phase, some of the existing passenger seats were removed and a texting and driver simulator was built and installed.

“Our office is committed to keeping our motorists, including young drivers and passengers, safe. To do that, we are not only focusing on enforcement, but education, as well,” stated Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves.

According to Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Justin Noel, another exciting aspect is The Original S.E.A.T., which was a concept that he and Columbus High School students came up with when they recognized the need to have a fun yet educational means to teach and encourage elementary students to buckle their seatbelts.

In addition, certified child passenger safety seat inspectors will utilize The S.E.A.T. to help demonstrate and talk to parents about what child / booster seat is appropriate for their children.

Over the past couple of months, Corporal Noel has taken The S.E.A.T. bus to several community events, and word has spread quickly resulting in him being invited to other areas in Southeast Kansas and Topeka to share the project with other health and traffic safety professionals.

Because of the innovative approach to life saving education being provided, it has been featured in publications such as the Kansas Sheriff’s Association magazine and the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office newsletter, helping to draw many other organizations to support the efforts of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office with and this program.

Another early supporter was the Region 6 EMS Council, which is a 13 member council representing the Emergency Medical Service providers in 12 Southeast Kansas counties.
Council Chairman Rod Pace was recently proud to present a $2,000.00 donation towards the completion of The S.E.A.T., and stated that, “The S.E.A.T. provides an invaluable teaching tool that will provide simulated real-life driving experiences to young drivers. The EMS community sees this as a unique opportunity towards injury prevention, and we are excited to be part of this effort.”

Sheriff Groves added, “Our office is extremely proud of this project, because we are confident it will lead to our young drivers and passengers being safer on the roadways. In addition, the partnerships formed with incredible organizations and businesses that have really stepped up in an extraordinary way, has allowed us to put this project together with no costs to the taxpayers.”

Citizens will begin seeing The S.E.A.T. mini-bus at more and more community events as officers work to engage as many young drivers and passengers as they can. You can follow The S.E.A.T. on Facebook at

In addition to the great sponsors already mentioned, the following businesses and organizations have been instrumental in getting The S.E.A.T. Project complete: Westco Home Furnishings in Columbus, Bean’s Towing, Ascanio Murals Custom Artwork, Vital Signs, State Farm Insurance – Agent Terry Bessman, Southeast Kansas Trauma Council, Kansas Truck of Wichita, Pittsburg Auto Glass, the Kansas Highway Patrol and Wal-Mart.



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