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Missouri Department of Transportation

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MoDOT News Release 

For more information, contact Kara Price, Community Relations, at 314-713-2717.

September 11, 2009 12:00 AM
Missouri High School Students Challenged to Buckle Up!
Safety Belt Campaign Aims to Save Lives

Calling all Missouri high school students to compete in the 2009 Battle of the Belt Challenge for an opportunity to win cash and prizes for your school while educating young drivers about safety belt use.

Sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, the statewide competition will run October 5 to November 20 to educate young drivers about safety belt use, reduce traffic crash injuries and save lives.

"In 2008, seven out of 10 young people (between the ages of 15-20) killed in Missouri vehicle crashes were not buckled up," said Leanna Depue, chair of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety's executive committee. "Through education, competition and fun, the Battle of the Belt Challenge can make a difference with Missouri teens and save lives."

Young drivers (between the ages of 15-20) are overrepresented in crashes both nationwide and in Missouri. Although comprising only nine percent of Missouri's licensed drivers, in 2008 they were involved in 23 percent of the fatal and disabling injury crashes. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people 15-20 years old. Results of a 2008 survey among Missouri teens indicate 48 percent of teens are not wearing safety belts.

This year's Battle of the Belt program will introduce a new online system at www.saveMOyouth.com where schools can sign up, submit forms and access resources. Additional award categories will give more schools the opportunity to be a Battle of the Belt winner.

The program consists of two surprise seat belt checks at each high school to measure student seat belt usage before and after an educational campaign on the importance of safety belt use.

In addition, schools have the opportunity to submit a 30-second video spot aimed at encouraging their peers to buckle up. Statewide and regional prizes are awarded to schools reaching high safety belt usage rates.

The program was originally brought to southwest Missouri by the Missouri Emergency Nurses Association and St. John's Hospital. In 2006, the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, in conjunction with American Family Insurance, took the competition statewide and continues to sponsor this year's program.

More than 125 schools participated in Battle of the Belt last year. There were two statewide winning schools for the education/seat belt check component of the campaign. Blue Eye High School in Blue Eye was chosen for having the most improved seat belt usage. St. Joseph's Academy in St. Louis, was chosen for the highest percentage usage overall. Washington High School in Washington won the video contest for communicating the importance of safety belt use. Their winning entry featured students in their cars buckling up to their favorite music and reinforced that "Nobody's too cool to buckle up." It can be viewed at www.saveMOyouth.com.

Sign up your local high school to take on the Battle of the Belt Challenge by completing a participation agreement form online at www.savemoyouth.com before October 2. For more information on Battle of the Belt, visit www.saveMOyouth.com.

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