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For more information, contact Laura Holloway, 573-751-5414 or Laura.Holloway@modot.mo.gov; or Adrian Hendricks, 573-751-5420 or Adrian.HendricksII@modot.mo.gov; or Sally Oxenhandler, 573-751-7456 or Sally.Oxenhandler@modot.mo.gov

March 28, 2008 12:00 AM
Battle of the Belt Conquered by Missouri High Schools

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Buckle Up to Arrive Alive! is the message thousands of Missouri high school students have taken to heart as part of the statewide Battle of the Belt seat belt challenge. Winners of the 2007 competition were awarded more than $8,500 in prizes in Columbia on Friday, March 28, at a banquet sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. 

More than 80 schools participated statewide from Sept. 6 - Dec. 31, 2007, with two winners chosen from each of ten regions for the educational component, one for most improved seat belt usage and one for highest use overall. A statewide winner was selected in each category from the regional winners. Winners were also selected for production of a 30-second video and a storyboard depicting a 30-second buckle up message geared for teens.

The winning videos and storyboard may be viewed at http://www.savemoyouth.com/, a dynamic new youth web site sponsored by the Coalition to reach teens with safe driving messages.

Students at Glendale High School in Springfield submitted the top video entry, with a creative spot featuring a car, a banana peel and a lesson on buckling up. First-place student creators of the project received $1,000 in prize money. Second- and third-place winners were:

· Second Place Video: Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center, Cape Girardeau

· Third Place Video: St. Francis Borgia Regional High School, Washington

St. Francis Borgia Regional High School in Washington submitted the top storyboard entry, depicting a teenage boy going through his day without his head. The last frame encourages teens to "Use Your Head" and buckle up. The student creator received $500 in prize money.

The educational component involved an initial surprise safety belt check for students, followed by a peer-designed educational blitz and a final surprise safety belt check to determine if a change of behavior occurred.  

Pattonville High School won the statewide award for the greatest percentage increase in safety belt usage, with a 61.4 percent increase. Notre Dame Regional High School won the statewide award for the highest safety belt usage overall, with 97.8 percent usage.

Each regional winner receives $250, while the two statewide winners receive an additional $1,000 in prize money.

"Battle of the Belt is a fun challenge for students that can save lives," said Leanna Depue, chair of the executive committee for the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. "It's vital to impress teens with the importance of wearing their seat belt so they don't become a tragic statistic."

The program is sponsored by American Family Insurance, the Missouri Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. 

Teens are an important audience for safety belt messages.  The Missouri Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the Missouri Safety Center, recently conducted a study showing only 61 percent of Missouri teenagers wear safety belts. In the past three years, nearly 400 young drivers died in Missouri traffic crashes, and 72 percent were not buckled up.

For more information on the importance of safety belts and a list of all Battle of the Belt winners, visit http://www.savemoyouth.com/ or call 800-800-BELT.
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