For more information, contact Carrie Wolken at 573-751-5420, or Kelly Jackson at 573-645-9353.
JEFFERSON CITY - Calling all Missouri high schools to compete in the 2013 Battle of the Belt Challenge for an opportunity to win cash and prizes for your school while educating young drivers about safety belt use. Sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, this statewide competition will run October 1 to November 8. Cash prizes for schools will be donated by American Family Insurance. Award banners will be funded by the Missouri College of Emergency Physicians."Eight out of ten teens killed in Missouri vehicle crashes each year aren't buckled up," said Leanna Depue, executive committee chair for the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. "Through education, competition and fun, the Battle of the Belt Challenge can make a difference with Missouri teens and save lives." Young drivers are overrepresented in crashes both nationwide and in Missouri. Although comprising only 10 percent of Missouri's licensed drivers, they are involved in more than 24 percent of the fatal and disabling injury crashes. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people 15-20 years old. Results of a 2012 survey among Missouri teens indicate 34 percent of teens are not wearing safety belts.The program consists of two surprise seat belt checks at each high school to measure student seat belt usage before and after and educational campaign on the importance of safety belt use. In addition, schools have the opportunity to submit a 30-second video spot aimed at encouraging their peers to buckle up. Statewide and regional cash prizes are awarded to schools reaching high safety belt usage rates for use to further educate the students on the importance of safety belt use.Schools achieving Highest Overall Seat Belt Use and Most Improved Seat Belt Use regionally will receive $500.00 donated by American Family Insurance to be used for future seat belt educational programs at the schools. Statewide recognition will be awarded with a banner for seat belt use donated by the Missouri College of Emergency Physicians. The top three winning 30-second video spots will also receive money to further seat belt educational programs at their schools.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 and the MO College of Emergency Room Physicians, took the competition statewide and continues to sponsor this year's program.Sign up your local high school to take the Battle of the Belt Challenge by completing a participation agreement form online at saveMOlives.com before October 1.You can also follow SaveMOLives on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, #saveMOlives and #ArriveAlive.