Early autumn battles between high schools normally remind you of the gridiron. Battle of the Belt, a high school seat belt challenge, brings a different twist to high school rivalries. This statewide competition gives Missouri high schools an opportunity to win cash prizes for students’ seat belt use.
“Battle of the Belt is a challenge that can save lives,” said Leanna Depue, executive committee chair of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. “Through education, competition and fun, we can instill safety habits that last a lifetime.”
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.
“Under Missouri’s Graduated License Law, permit drivers and all passengers must wear safety belts,” Depue reminded.
The Battle of the Belt Challenge consists of two surprise seat belt checks at each high school to measure beat 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.
This year’s program runs from Oct. 1 to Nov. 9. There is still time to sign up at www.savemolives.com. The winning schools receive cash prizes to be used to further educate the students on the importance of seat belt use. Cash prizes are 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.
More than 140 schools participated in Battle of the Belt in 2012. The program is jointly sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, American Family Insurance and the Missouri College of Emergency Physicians.