MoDOT's Challenge to Buckle Up

8 years 10 months 1 week ago Tuesday, October 05 2010 Oct 5, 2010 Tuesday, October 05, 2010 4:28:59 AM CDT October 05, 2010 in News

FULTON - The Missouri Department of Transportation is challenging teens to buckle up. The challenge began today with reminders, lectures and demonstrations.

Teen seat belt use has increased from 61 percent last year to 66 percent this year. However, buckling up is still an issue. Car accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers.

"I believe seat belt wearing is a very useful tool that students need to use.  I know several of them do not wear their seat belts," said Gina McLachlan, a teacher at Fulton High School.

"Through a variety of ways, we try to educate teens about the importance of wearing their seat belts and how they can prevent injuries and hopefully fatalities just by taking three seconds to buckle up," said MoDOT Outreach Coordinator Melissa Black.

To understand just how important it is to wear a seat belt, students in Fulton don't have to look far.

"We had a girl (Kristalaia Whitney) die two years ago who was not wearing a seat belt and would have lived if probably she'd worn it, so that's something the kids can relate to," said McLachlan.

Whitney isn't the only reminder.

In February of 2009, just two week before Whitney's accident, David Bateman also died in a car accident. He wasn't wearing his seat belt, either.

"The students came to school talking about, I'm going to wear my seat belt, I'm always going to wear my seat belt now," McLachlan said.

"We had 878 fatalities last year and over 70 percent of those people were not wearing their seat belts.  So while we couldn't have prevented all of them, if everyone would just wear their seat belt, we know that a lot of them could have been a lot less severe and hopefully not fatal."

More than 200 high schools are participating, up from 1-44 from last year.

MoDOT will give awards to schools with the highest usage.

The challenge ends November 19.

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