Students, schools and youth groups across Virginia are kicking off a statewide campaign this week to increase seat belt usage rates among teens and youth.
Through a new, virtual format, the five-week campaign, Drive for Change: Buckle Up and Slow Down will encourage youth and teens to develop a lifelong buckle up habit by reminding them that seat belts are their best defense against injury and death in a crash.
In 2019, 65 teens aged 15-20 were killed in crashes in Virginia and of those teens, 56% were not wearing seat belts. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), 2020 preliminary data reveals 37 teens have been killed on Virginia’s roadways from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31 and of those, 19 (59%) were unbelted.
“The simple step of buckling a seat belt saves lives but, sadly, we are seeing an increase in the percentage of unrestrained teens killed in crashes in Virginia this year,” said Mary King, YOVASO program manager. “Through the ‘Drive for Change’ campaign, we are challenging our teens to change that statistic by influencing and encouraging each other to always buckle up. We hope every teen in Virginia will join the campaign and use their creativity to help save lives.”
In addition to buckling up, the campaign will also address speed prevention which remains a key factor in all fatal crashes involving a young driver with approximately half of fatal teen crashes being caused by excessive speed.
As part of the campaign, Virginia students ages 11-20 will be encouraged to participate in the #DriveForChange Sticker Design Contest by designing a sticker/decal with a buckle up and/or slow down message that will influence youth and teens to wear their seat belt and follow posted speed limits. The winning design will be selected by popular vote on social media during National Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 18-24) and announced on Oct. 23. Prizes will be awarded for the top five designs with first place receiving $100, having their artwork produced as a sticker for YOVASO’s 2021 Arrive Alive campaign, and will also receive 100 stickers to share with his/her friends. The other four finalists will receive $25. Contest Guidelines can be found online at www.yovaso.org/driveforchange/.
Students may also participate in the campaign by registering for a #DriveForChange kit that includes driver and passenger safety resources, project ideas and other fun items. Additional options for schools, youth groups, and parents to get involved can be explored on YOVASO’s website.
Drive for Change: Buckle Up and Slow Down is funded by a grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles with additional funding from State Farm, which supports prizes and educational incentives and materials.
“State Farm’s primary goal is to keep drivers safe behind the wheel,” said State Farm spokesperson Kate Beadle. “This campaign is a creative reminder to young drivers to always wear seat belts and obey the speed limit. With these actions, the number of accidents, serious injuries and deaths will be reduced.”
For more information or to register for free campaign materials for a school or youth group, contact Casey Taylor, program development coordinator at 540-739-4392 or visit yovaso.org.