November 7, 2013
Battle of the Belt Targets Motorists' Safety Among Students
BATTLE OF THE BELT - Kayle Denny (top) and Russ Burris with Think First Missouri spoke with SCR-I students regarding the importance of seat belt usage. The Think First Missouri program is designed to prevent injuries through education, research, and policy. Denny and Burris each suffered life changing injuries as a result of separate, motor vehicle accidents. Neither individual was wearing seatbelts. Both were teenagers at the time of their accidents. Students in grades 7-12 were present for the assembly.
Scotland County High School participated in the 2013 Missouri, "Battle of The Belt" competition. The "Battle of The Belt" was developed to reduce the number of motor-vehicle-related injuries and fatalities among Missouri high school students by increasing their safety belt use. The program was originally brought to southwest Missouri by the Missouri Emergency Nurses Association and St. John's Hospital. In 2006, The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, in conjunction with American Family Insurance, took the competition statewide.
Missouri high schools compete each year to increase safety belt use with surprise belt survey checks before and after an educational campaign to educate students on the risks of not wearing safety belts. Scotland County High School conducted its first unannounced check on October 8th. Findings revealed that only 69.2% of drivers entering the student parking lot were wearing their safety belts.
To promote seatbelt use among students, a bulletin board display was set-up in the student cafeteria displaying statistical information and seatbelt safety photos provided by the high school publication classes. Positive messages and informational posters were also on display throughout the building. The highlights of the awareness program came in the form of two assemblies. The Think First Missouri trauma prevention program spoke to the entire student body on October 29th. The presentation was given by the personal stories of two individuals who were involved in traffic crashes, suffering life changing injuries due to not wearing safety belts. Also, Sergeant Brent Bernhardt of the Missouri State Highway Patrol presented "Gone Too Soon", a graphic video designed for young drivers. Bernhardt stated that 64% of the Missouri traffic fatalities in 2012 were not wearing safety belts.
The final check, conducted on Wednesday, October 30th resulted in 93.25% of the drivers and their passengers being belted in, an increase of 24.02%. Schools attaining 91%+ seatbelt use will receive state recognition. Regionally, two schools will receive grant money to be used for further safety education based on overall use, and improved use of safety belts. In 2012, Scotland County attained 89.6% on its final survey.
Local sponsors of "Battle of The Belt" were Pepsi-Cola Memphis Bottling Company who provided a ARRIVE ALIVE banner outside the student parking lot, State Farm Insurance of Memphis for supplying t-shirts, and the Don F. Harrison Insurance Agency who sponsored a Casey's Gift certificate.