DANVILLE – Brightly colored signs will soon be popping up around Danville as a reminder to all to drive safely.
The signs are the long-awaited culmination of a project that a group of Danville High School students have been working on for nearly two years.
The DHS Future Problem Solvers unveiled two of the signs Monday afternoon in front of Fagen’s at the corner of North Vermilion Street and Liberty Lane. One sign reminds motorists and pedestrians to Be Smart, Be Safe and Be Seen. Another sign tells motorists to Drive Safe, Arrive Safe. Monday’s presentation coincided with the kickoff of the United Nations’ Global Road Safety Week.
“This has been a long-wanted accomplishment,” Future Problem Solver and DHS senior Kaleb Medina said of the signs.
The signs are the highlight of a project that the DHS Future Problem Solvers will present at the International Future Problem Solvers competition June 3-9 at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where they will compete with more than 75 teams from around the world. The international competition draws about 2,000 problem solvers in three age divisions — junior, middle and senior.
Earlier his year, the DHS Future Problem Solvers were named 2019 Illinois State Champions for the same project, titled “Project Ignition: Be the Key to Road Safety,” in the community problem solving category.
The Danville group always competes in the community problem solving category. In that category, groups of up to 15 students per school follow a six-step problem solving process to affect change and help solve real community challenges.
This year’s project was a continuation of what the students started last year. The DHS Future Problem Solvers developed strategies for safe driving not only on local streets and rural county roads, but also along the Interstate 74 corridor between Danville and Champaign.
“We looked at rural and urban roads,” DHS senior and FPS member MaKayla Smith said. “We found out I-74 is like a wind tunnel.”
The DHS teens hatched the idea for the project after reflecting on the October 2016 death of fellow student D’Nija Parker who was killed in a car accident on Griggs Street. Kaleb also has a personal connection to the project because his sister was killed several years ago in traffic accident as a passenger.
Since the 2017-2018 school year, the DHS group has been researching accident statistics and the leading contributors to accidents. The students learned about the “Fatal Four,” which is not wearing seat belts, speeding, using electronics, and driving impaired. The teens also learned that 94 percent of all accidents are due to driver decisions or human error and the other 6 percent is due to dangerous road conditions and roadways.
Kaleb, however, said the project has been an “evolving” one, and that the signs have been “18 months in the making.”
“We got feedback last year that told us we can’t just focus on the Fatal Four and that we needed to focus on road safety,” he said.
The group originally planned to post road safety signs along Interstate 74, but instead will install the colorful signs in five different areas of Danville.
“We kept it quick and basic to read,” Kaleb said of the message on the signs.
The DHS group hopes the project’s driving safety information and the signs will make an impact in the area and improve road safety.
“The more people who know about our project, the closer we get to our goal,” FPS member Jolene Blodgett said.
The Danville High School Future Problem Solvers and auto trade classes will offer auto safety and tire checks from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday in the south parking lot of high school along Jackson Street.