Missouri survey finds teen safety belt use is on the up

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The 2016 Missouri Teen Safety Belt Survey is complete. The safety belt usage for all teenage drivers and teenage front seat passengers combined was 70.4 per cent. This is a 1.4 per cent increase when compared to 69 per cent in 2015.

“We’re very excited to see these numbers go up,” said MoDOT Youth Program Coordinator Kacey Buschjost. “Teenagers are our most inexperienced and vulnerable drivers, so it’s vital that they, and all drivers, be buckled up every trip, every time.”

The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety promotes several programs to educate young drivers on the importance of roadway safety. The following programs can attribute to the increase in safety belt usage in Missouri.

First Impact is a traffic safety program that educates parents about Missouri’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) law and provides the tools they need to monitor, coach and support their new teen driver. Missouri GDL law is a three-step licensing system. The purpose is to ease teens into licensure so that they can build skill in an environment that minimizes those things that are shown to cause the greatest risk for new drivers. Research confirms that GDL laws have been instrumental in reducing teen crashes by 20 to 40 percent.

The It Only Takes One campaign is a competition between Missouri high schools that gives student groups the opportunity to educate teens, parents and their community about the dangers teens face while driving. The competition includes educational campaigns, surprise safety belt surveys and the creation of a public service announcement. It’s important that teen drivers realize it only takes one text, one drink, one call, one reach, one distraction to cause one fatal moment. But, that one clicked seat belt could be the difference between life and death in a car crash.

Team Spirit is a statewide youth traffic safety leadership training program committed to empowering youth to promote safe driving habits. After an initial training session, Team Spirit youth create and implement action plans for their school and community in an effort to reduce death and serious injury resulting from traffic crashes. Team Spirit is available to all schools in Missouri.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for youth (15-20) in Missouri, accounting for nearly 11.8 per cent of traffic fatalities during the last three years. Many factors including inexperience, alcohol, speeding, cell phones, and other countless distractions all contribute to these crashes, with many resulting in death. A safety belt is the best defense in a traffic crash. Buckle up and ARRIVE ALIVE.

For more information on highway safety or any of the programs offered, please visit savemolives.com.

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