Battle of the Belt Begins
MODOT invited every high school in the state to participate in a seatbelt challenge because unbelted car crash fatalities among teens is a major problem.
MODOT statistics on Missouri motor vehicle crashes from 2004 to 2006 show some alarming numbers. Forty-three percent of Boone County teenage crash fatalities involved teens not wearing their seatbelts.
In the entire state, 72% of teenage crash fatalities involved teens not wearing seatbelts. But it's not just teens. Sixty-two percent of Missouri's total occupant fatalities were not wearing their seatbelt.
Administrators at Hickman High School want to reduce teen fatalities, so they decided to take part in the Battle of the Belt Challenge.
The competition includes surprise seatbelt checks and an educational campaign, and gives students the opportunity to submit a 30 second video encouraging their peers to buckle up. Cash prizes will be awarded for each contest.
"If you know that you're going to get a prize then, you're willing to put your seatbelt on," Hickman junior Ashley Turner said.
A group of teens from each participating high school will conduct the surprise seatbelt checks.
"Teenagers aren't always going to listen to adults as much and so if they can listen more to their peers and if they're really involved hands on and excited about the program then we hope that will encourage more teenagers to wear their seatbelt," said Laura Holloway from MODOT.
"As a driver you are responsible for the people in your car, and the vehicle is a weapon," Hickman Senior Bianca Aaron.
Missouri high schools may choose to participate in one, two, or all three components of the program.