Top three high and middle schools announced in statewide teen seat belt challenge
The four‐week challenge, which aims to encourage youth and teens to develop a lifelong, buckle up habit, saw a five percent increase in belt use among students at participating schools that completed pre and post seat belt checks. The campaign also focused on speed-prevention.
Liberty High School in Bedford Co. placed second in the high school division and Louisa County High School in Louisa Co. placed third. Marion Middle School in Smyth Co. was second in the middle school division and Forest Middle School in Bedford Co. was third.
As the statewide winners, Spotsylvania and Auburn will each receive $500 and a congratulatory prize banner. Liberty, Louisa, Marion, and Forest will receive cash prizes and a banner. All campaign prizes were funded by donations and a grant from State Farm.
“State Farm congratulates the participating schools for educating teens on the importance of wearing a seat belt,” said Kate Beadle, State Farm spokesperson. “We hope the students develop a lifelong habit of buckling up, both as a driver and a passenger.” The grant from State Farm also supported campaign materials.
Sixty-five schools, youth groups, and other traffic safety organizations participated in the annual campaign that ran from September 24 until October 19. Winners were selected based on their campaign involvement which included developing a creative event to emphasize the importance of the campaign’s theme and message. The Creative Event was given the highest weight and was judged on content, student engagement, and creativity. Other judging criteria included educational and awareness activities aimed at changing driving attitudes and behaviors and the results of pre and post campaign seat belt checks to encourage buckling up among students. Among the schools that completed checks, seat belt use increased an average of five percent from pre-campaign to post-campaign.
“More than half of the teens killed in crashes in Virginia last year were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash,” said Casey Taylor, YOVASO Program Development Coordinator. “Our goal for this campaign is that youth and teens will begin to recognize seat belts as critical safety equipment in a vehicle designed to protect and save lives in the same way football helmets protect football players.”
During the campaign, participating schools sponsored hundreds of activities and events aimed at increasing seat belt use and/or speed prevention. Some examples include buckle-up themed tailgate parties, safety demonstrations, poster and door decorating contests, producing buckle up awareness videos, participating in community parades, pep rallies promoting traffic safety, and social media campaigns. Students who participated in activities were rewarded with mini footballs imprinted with a buckle up message, buckle up reminder cards, speed-prevention bookmarks, and other materials imprinted with the buckle up and slow down message.
The campaign was heavily promoted on social media and through the campaign landing page that included an online “buckle up” pledge which received more than 1,450 student pledges from 28 different schools across the state.
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 funded through grants from the Virginia DMV Highway Safety Office. 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.