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Press Release & Carol Kincaid
Each year, area high schools students are encouraged to participate in the Battle of the Belt Challenge. The Battle of the Belt is a competition between Missouri high schools to increase seat belt usage among teens. The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety and American Family Insurance sponsor the program.
The students and faculty at Knox County R-I High School rose to the challenge; they were the regional winner in highest overall usage at 93.91 percent, and earned a $250 check for this category. They won another $250 in the category of most improved usage, at 71.16 percent increase from the first seat belt check to the second. It was the first time the school participated in the challenge.
On Friday, March 20, the Knox County School District held a special assembly of the student body to congratulate them for their efforts in educating and encouraging fellow students about the importance of seat belt usage and to “Arrive Alive”. Joining the school district officials at the dedication were numerous faculty, staff, students and law enforcement. During the ceremony, MoDOT District Engineer Paula Gough and Don McCurren from American Family Insurance presented Jane Moore, Battle of the Belt student coordinator for the school, with two checks each in the amount of $250 for being the regional winner.
“Statewide, only 62 percent of Missouri teens report wearing their seat belt. Young drivers between the ages of 15 and 18 comprise 5.4 percent of Missouri’s 4.2 million licensed drivers and are involved in 15 percent of the traffic crashes in the state,” said MoDOT District Engineer Paula Gough.
“We have approximately 29 high schools in our 13 county area, and this year 14 school actively participated,” added Gough. During the competition, teens participate in observational safety belt surveys conducted before and after an education blitz to determine the change in seat belt use among the teens.
Part of the “strategies” used by Co-chairs Cyndy Bleim-Sharp and Moore were a safety poster contest, special cheers by the cheerleaders, and keeping a record of all efforts made to impress upon the students the importance of seat belts. Moore recognized two of the participants in the poster contest, Teara Ramer and Michael Jennings. She also brought all of the football cheerleaders out for recognition during the assembly, and had them do one of the seat belt cheers, saying that they had done so well they were featured in the MoDOT “Arrive Alive” safety calendar.
According to Moore, plans have not been finalized as to what purpose the funds will be used, but the idea of a scrolling marquee out front has been considered.
High schools in the northeast area participating in the seat belt checks for highest overall usage/most improved from the first seat belt check to the second were Clark County R-I (80.69/66.76), Madison C-3 (77.14/30.18), Warrenton 91.58/8.34), North Shelby (73.49/-1.74, Marion county R-III (81.67/-3.48), Monroe City (77.98/-6.88 High Schools. Other schools who participated in the educational campaigns were Canton R-V, Hannibal, Mexico, Palmyra, Scotland County, Troy Buchanan, and Van-Far.
For more information about the Battle of the Belt program or other traffic safety peograms, log onto www.saveMOlives.com or call 1-888-275-6636.