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For more information, contact Sandy Hentges, (573) 526-4141 or Sally Oxenhandler, (573) 751-7456

October 21, 2008 12:00 AM
MUís Pinkel Plugs Seatbelt Use

JEFFERSON CITY - Mizzou Head Football Coach Gary Pinkel and the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety have teamed up to take on the Tigers' most formidable opponent yet: people who don't buckle up.

Pinkel appears in a new public service announcement that features a defenseless Tiger wannabe at the mercy of the real thing. As the giant, growling football player moves in for the tackle, a dark shadow falls over his trembling victim. A female scientist says, "In an automobile accident, 6,000 pounds of force is transferred to the body of the occupant, roughly the same amount of force as taking a hit from an MU football player."

The punch line? "If the MU football player was 64-feet tall."

Straight-man Pinkel delivers the PSA's serious message: "In a crash your seat belt is your best defense. Drive safe, drive sober and always buckle up. We want you to Arrive Alive."

The Mizzou coach has appeared in several public service announcements promoting highway safety. This past April, he was seen on billboards and heard on radio promoting motorcycle safety. In one of those spots, Pinkel, an avid motorcycle rider, asks drivers to be on the lookout for motorcycles and keep Missouri roads safe for everyone, "even Jayhawk fans."

"Coach Pinkel has been a true supporter of our efforts to save lives on Missouri highways," Missouri Department of Transportation Director Pete Rahn said. "In addition to these public service announcements, thousands of people see the Arrive Alive logo on the press backdrop when the coach meets with reporters. We can't thank him enough for lending his name and notoriety to encourage motorists to buckle up and drive sober."

Coalition members will be out in force at Mizzou's Oct. 25 homecoming game to further spread the safety message. As football fans enter the stadium, they will find safety advocates at various locations around the main concourse with activities to illustrate the importance of driving sober and buckling up.

Only 77 percent of Missourians wear their seat belts, well below the national average of 82 percent. For teenagers, the rate is even lower - just 62 percent.

"It's amazing what the simple act of buckling up can do," said Rahn. "You have a one in 32 chance of being killed in a crash if you're not wearing your seat belt. If you're belted in, your chance of being killed falls to one in 1,294."

Rahn said his agency would once again make a push for the Missouri legislature to pass a primary safety belt law in the upcoming legislative session. Missouri's current safety belt law allows only secondary enforcement, meaning motorists can be ticketed only if the driver is first pulled over for another offense. A primary safety belt law in Missouri would save an estimated 90 lives and prevent more than 1,000 serious injuries each year.

You can view the MU football PSA on the big screen at Mizzou home football games or on YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFkFYjqm4go.

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