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

seat beltClose to 60 high schools, middle schools, and youth groups 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 & 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 2017, 56 teens were killed in crashes in Virginia and of those teens, 55% were not wearing seat belts.  According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), 2018 preliminary data revealed a 100% increase in the number of 15-20 year olds who died not wearing seat belts from January 1 through June 30, 2018, compared to the same time period last year.

“The numbers are startling,” said Casey Taylor, YOVASO Program Development Coordinator. “At the end of June, 18 young people who died were not wearing a seat belt at the time of their crash, impacting 15 different communities. We’re urging teens to buckle up and pushing the message that seat belts save lives, reducing the risk of death in a crash by 45 percent.”

In addition to buckling up, the campaign will also address speed prevention which remains a key factor in all fatal crashes involving a young driver with approximately half of all fatal teen crashes being caused by excessive speed.

During the four week-challenge, participating schools and youth groups will develop a creative event for the student body designed to influence their peers to buckle up and/or slow down. Schools and youth groups will also complete pre and post seat belt checks 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. Not all schools and youth groups will elect to compete, but those who do 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 usage rate by the end of the campaign.

This campaign is funded by a grant from the Virginia DMV Highway Safety Office with additional funding from State Farm which will support prizes and educational incentives and materials.

“Seat belts are the perfect accessory. Buckling your seat belt can save your life and keep you from getting seriously injured,” says State Farm spokesperson Kate Beadle.  “State Farm’s primary goal is to keep drivers safe behind the wheel. Speeding plays a role in approximately one-third of traffic deaths each year. Obeying the speed limit can reduce your risk of having a crash.”

Campaign winners in the high school and middle school divisions will be announced on November 12. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three placing schools or youth groups in both the middle and high school divisions.

For more information or to register your school or youth group for this free campaign, contact Casey Taylor, Program Development Coordinator at 540-375-3596 or visit YOVASO is Virginia’s Peer-to-Peer Education and Prevention Program for Teen Driver and Passenger Safety and is a program of the Virginia State Police. Membership in YOVASO is free and open to all Virginia high schools, middle schools, and youth groups. YOVASO currently has 102 active member schools and youth groups.

Schools Participating in the 2018 “Save Your Tailgate, Buckle Up & Slow Down” Campaign

High Schools

  • Amherst County High School, Amherst Co.
  • Appomattox County High School, Appomattox Co.
  • Bluestone High School, Mecklenburg Co.
  • Brooke Point High School, Stafford Co.
  • Chilhowie High School, Smyth Co.
  • Christiansburg High School, Montgomery Co.
  • Deep Run High School, Henrico Co.
  • Eastern Montgomery High School, Montgomery Co.
  • Floyd County High School, Floyd Co.
  • Fries School, Grayson Co.
  • Galileo Magnet High School, Danville City
  • George Wythe High School, Richmond City
  • Glenvar High School, Roanoke Co.
  • Granby High School, Norfolk City
  • Gretna High School, Pittsylvania Co.
  • Halifax County High School, Halifax Co.
  • Heritage High School, Lynchburg City
  • Hidden Valley High School, Roanoke Co.
  • J.R. Tucker High School, Henrico Co.
  • James River High School, Botetourt Co.
  • Jefferson Forest High School, Bedford Co.
  • Liberty High School, Bedford Co.
  • Louisa County High School, Louisa Co.
  • Luray High School, Page Co.
  • Magna Vista High School, Henry Co.
  • Manchester High School, Chesterfield Co.
  • Monacan High School, Chesterfield Co.
  • Narrows High School, Giles Co.
  • Page County High School, Page Co.
  • Parkview High School, Mecklenburg Co.
  • Powhatan High School, Powhatan Co.
  • Randolph-Henry High School, Charlotte Co.
  • Spotsylvania High School, Spotsylvania Co.
  • Staunton River High School, Bedford Co.
  • Stuarts Draft High School, Augusta Co.
  • Tazewell High School, Tazewell Co.
  • William Byrd High School, Roanoke Co.
  • William Campbell High School, Campbell Co.

Middle Schools

  • 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.
  • Drew Middle School, Stafford Co.
  • Forest Middle School, Bedford Co.
  • Grayson Highlands School, Grayson Co.
  • Independence Middle School, Grayson Co.
  • Louisa County Middle School, Louisa Co.
  • Marion Middle School, Smyth Co.
  • Northside Middle School, Roanoke Co.
  • Page County Middle School, Page Co.
  • Shawsville Middle School, Montgomery Co.
  • Shirley Heim Middle School, Stafford Co.
  • Staunton River Middle School, Bedford Co.
  • Walker-Grant Middle School, Fredericksburg City

Other Youth Organizations Participating

  • Bristol’s Promise
  • REACH Homeschool Group

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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