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

virginia logoMore than 70  high and middle schools across Virginia are kicking off a statewide campaign to increase seat belt usage rates among teens and youth.

The four‐week challenge, “Save Your Tailgate, Buckle Up” 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. Using the slogan, “Seat Belts Are Your Safety Equipment,” the campaign emphasizes that seat belts are critical safety equipment in a vehicle and are designed to protect and save lives.  Just as football players always wear a helmet, drivers and passengers should always buckle up for safety is a central message of the campaign.

Save Your Tailgate, Buckle Up is sponsored by Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO), the Virginia State Police (VSP), and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office.  State Farm Insurance is also partnering on the program to fund materials and campaign prizes.

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. 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 educational programs, the percentage of students reached, and the percentage increase in the school’s seat belt usage rate by the end of the campaign.

“This year’s campaign has a new football-themed logo and tagline, but holds the same important message as years past— to always buckle up,” said Casey Taylor, YOVASO Program Development Coordinator. “We want young people to think of seat belts as their safety equipment and to never get into a vehicle without wearing one.”

According to Virginia statistics, teens between the ages of 15 and 20 are less likely to buckle up when riding in a motor vehicle than other age groups. In 2015, 60 teens were killed in crashes in Virginia. Of those 60 teens, 54% (28) were not wearing safety belts. An additional 1,058 teenagers were seriously injured in crashes.

“The numbers are very real,” explained Taylor. “That’s 60 families impacted by loss and 28 of those left questioning if their teen would still be alive had he/she been wearing a seat belt. With this campaign we aim to reduce those numbers and reinforce the importance of buckling up.”

The Save Your Tailgate, Buckle Up Campaign will end on October 14. Campaign winners in the high school and middle school divisions will be announced on November 7. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three placing schools in both the middle and high school divisions. All prizes are made possible by a State Farm grant and other community donations.

YOVASO is Virginia’s peer‐to‐peer education and prevention program for teen driver safety. Through YOVASO, teens work to advocate for safer driving among their peers and to develop positive prevention strategies for their schools and communities. The program, which currently has 134 member schools across Virginia, is administered by the Virginia State Police and funded through a grant from the Virginia DMV Highway Safety Office. For more information, contact YOVASO at 540‐375-3596 or visit the website at


Participating Schools

High Schools

  • Alleghany High School, Alleghany Co.
  • Altavista High School, Campbell Co.
  • Amherst County High School, Amherst Co.
  • Auburn High School, Montgomery Co.
  • Bassett High School, Henry Co.
  • Blacksburg High School, Montgomery Co.
  • Bluestone High School, Mecklenburg Co.
  • Bristol’s Promise, Washington Co.
  • Brooke Point High School, Stafford Co.
  • Chilhowie High School, Smyth Co.
  • Christiansburg High School, Montgomery Co.
  • Colonial Forge High School, Stafford Co.
  • Cosby High School, Chesterfield Co.
  • Courtland High School, Spotsylvania Co.
  • Dan River High School, Pittsylvania Co.
  • Douglas S. Freeman High School, Henrico Co.
  • E.C. Glass High School, Lynchburg City
  • Eastern Montgomery High School, Montgomery Co.
  • Floyd County High School, Floyd Co.
  • Fort Defiance High School, Augusta Co.
  • Franklin County High School, Franklin Co.
  • Galileo Magnet High School, Danville City
  • George Wythe High School, Richmond City
  • Giles High School, Giles Co.
  • Glenvar High School, Roanoke Co.
  • Henrico High School, Henrico Co.
  • Heritage High School, Lynchburg City
  • Hidden Valley High School, Roanoke Co.
  • James River High School, Botetourt Co.
  • Jefferson Forest High School, Bedford Co.
  • Liberty High School, Bedford Co.
  • Lord Botetourt High School, Botetourt Co.
  • Louisa County High School, Louisa Co.
  • Luray High School, Page Co.
  • Magna Vista High School, Henry Co.
  • Middlesex High School, Middlesex Co.
  • Narrows High School, Giles Co.
  • North Stafford High School, Stafford Co.
  • Page County High School, Page Co.
  • Park View High School, Mecklenburg Co.
  • Patriot High School, Prince William Co.
  • Poquoson High School, Poquoson City
  • Randolph-Henry High School, Charlotte Co.
  • Stafford High School, Stafford Co.
  • Staunton River High School, Bedford Co.
  • Stuarts Draft High School, Augusta Co.
  • Tazewell High School, Tazewell Co.
  • Turner Ashby High School, Rockingham Co.
  • West Point High School, King William Co.
  • William Byrd High School, Roanoke Co.
  • William Campbell Combined School, Campbell Co.
  • Wilson Memorial High School, Augusta Co.
  • Woodrow Wilson High School, Portsmouth City


Middle Schools

  • G. Wright Middle School, Stafford Co.
  • Auburn Middle School, Montgomery Co.
  • Bedford Middle School, Bedford Co.
  • Cave Spring Middle School, Roanoke Co.
  • Central Academy Middle School, Botetourt Co.
  • Dixon-Smith Middle School, Stafford Co.
  • Edward E. Drew Middle School, Stafford Co.
  • Forest Middle School, Bedford Co.
  • Halifax County Middle School, Halifax Co.
  • H.H. Poole Middle School, Stafford Co.
  • Hidden Valley Middle School, Roanoke Co.
  • Monelison Middle School, Amherst Co.
  • Page County Middle School, Page Co.
  • Read Mountain Middle School, Botetourt Co.
  • Rodney Thompson Middle School, Stafford Co.
  • Shawsville Middle School, Montgomery Co.
  • Shirley Heim Middle School, Stafford Co.
  • Staunton River Middle School, Bedford Co.
  • Tazewell Middle School, Tazewell Co.

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