Statewide "Battle of the Belt" Competition Kicks Off

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JEFFERSON CITY - "Battle of the Belt," a program aimed at increasing seatbelt use in high schools, is set to begin Monday.

According to a 2012 survey, only 66 percent of Missouri teens buckle up, compared with 79 percent of Missourians, and well below the national average of 84 percent. In the past three years, 354 teens died in Missouri traffic crashes, 75 percent of whom were not buckled up.

The Battle of the Belt Challenge consists of two surprise seat belt checks at each high school to measure belt usage before and after an educational campaign on the importance of safety belt use.In addition to the program, schools have the opportunity to submit a 30-second video spot aimed at encouraging their peers to buckle up.

Cash prizes will be awarded at the end of the campaign to the schools with the highest and most improved seat belt use, and the top three winning videos.

The program runs from Oct. 1 through Nov. 9.