JEFFERSON CITY - All Missouri high schools are called to compete in the 2014 Battle of the Belt Challenge for an opportunity to win cash and prizes teaching students the importance of buckling up. Sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, the statewide competition will run October 1 to November 19 to educate young drivers about safety belt use, reduce traffic crash injuries and save teen lives. "Nearly eight out of ten teens killed in Missouri vehicle crashes over the last three years weren't buckled up," said Leanna Depue, chair of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety's executive committee. "The Battle of the Belt competition can make a difference with Missouri teens and save lives through education, competition and fun."Teen drivers are overrepresented in crashes both nationwide and in Missouri. Although comprising only seven percent of Missouri's licensed drivers, they were involved in nearly 20 percent of the fatal and serious injury crashes over the last three years. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people 15-20 years old. Results of a 2013 survey among Missouri teens indicate 33 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 an 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 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. Statewide recognition will be awarded with a banner for seat belt use rates of gold (99-100 percent), silver (95-98 percent) or bronze (91-94 percent) donated by the Missouri College of Emergency Physicians. The top three winning video spots will also receive funding to further seat belt educational programs. The program originated in 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 Missouri College of Emergency Room Physicians, took the competition statewide and continues to sponsor this year's program. High schools can sign up for the Battle of the Belt Challenge by completing a participation agreement form online at http://www.modot.org/Safety/BattleoftheBeltChallenge.htm before September 26.