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

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

The three‐week challenge, “Save Your TAIL‐Gate, Buckle Up” will encourage youth and teens to develop a lifelong habit of buckling up. It 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. The Allstate Foundation is sponsoring the campaign through a generous grant that is funding educational materials for participating schools. The grant is also funding prizes for the high and middle schools that place in the top three for their programs to encourage seat belt use among students.

During the three-week challenge, student groups from schools across the state will compete against one another to increase seat belt use among teens and youth. Students will develop creative ideas for encouraging seat belt use among their peers at school events and home football games. Each participating school will be judged on the effectiveness and creativity of its seat belt educational programs, the percentage of students submitting online pledges to buckle up, and the percentage increase in the school’s seat belt usage rate by the end of the campaign.

The high school that wins the challenge will receive a recognition celebration for its students with food, music, prizes, and games sponsored by the Allstate Foundation.

“This is one of our most exciting campaigns throughout the school year, said Casey Palmer, YOVASO Program Development Coordinator. “A lot of our clubs kick off the campaign during home football games, adding to the excitement yet bringing a serious reminder to teens of the risks of not buckling up and driving unsafely.

According to Virginia statistics, teens between the ages of 16 and 20 are less likely to buckle up when riding in a motor vehicle than other age groups. In 2014, 67 teens were killed in crashes in Virginia. Of those 67 teens, 43% (29) were not wearing safety belts. An additional 952 teenagers were seriously injured in crashes.

“While we see a 33% decrease in the number of teens killed in crashes (not wearing safety belts)in our state from 2013-2014, the numbers are still very high,” explained Palmer. “It’s our goal this campaign will help us help our youth and teens develop a lifelong habit of buckling up.”

The Save Your TAIL‐Gate, Buckle Up Campaign will end on October 9. Campaign winners in the high school and middle school brackets will be announced on October 22. All prizes are being funded by a grant from The Allstate Foundation.

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 nonprofit organization, which has approximately 130 active school clubs across Virginia, is administered by the Virginia State Police and funded through a grant from the Virginia Highway Safety Office.

For more information, contact YOVASO at 540‐375-3596 or visit the website at yovaso.org.


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