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Challenge to increase seat belt use among teens, youth kicks off in Virginia

Sixty-five high and middle schools across Virginia are kicking off a statewide campaign to increase seat belt usage rates among teens and youth.

yovasoThe four‐week challenge, “Save Your Tailgate, Buckle Up & Slow Down” will encourage youth and teens to develop a lifelong buckle up habit by reminding them that seat belts are critical safety equipment for every driver and passenger.

The campaign emphasizes that seat belts are critical safety equipment in a vehicle and are designed to protect and save lives in the same way football helmets protect football players.

In 2016, 71 teens were killed in crashes in Virginia and of those teenagers, 54% were not wearing safety belts.

“Our goal is to get students to make buckling up a habit and in addition to that, we’re encouraging high schools to make speed prevention a central focus of their campaign,” said Casey Taylor, YOVASO Program Development Coordinator. “Buckling up isn’t our only problem. In Virginia, speed remains a key factor in all fatal crashes involving a young driver with approximately half of all fatal teen crashes caused by excessive speed, so it’s important for our schools to address this issue as well.”

During the four week-challenge, students at participating schools will develop a creative event for the student body designed to influence their peers to buckle up and/or slow down. In addition, schools will complete pre and post seat belt checks as students arrive at school to measure the campaign’s impact on increasing seat belt use among students.

Other activities will include educational events at home football games, buckle up pledge signings, seat belt safety contests, organizing traffic safety rallies and tailgate events, and other creative messaging and programming. Each participating school will be judged on the effectiveness and creativity of its seat belt and/or speed educational programs, the percentage of students reached, and the percentage increase in the school’s seat belt