Proving to teenagers that seatbelts save lives

According to a study by the Center for Injury Research and Prevention, 1,305 were killed in car crashes across the U.S. in 2010. And not all of them were wearing seatbelts.

In Missouri, a coalition of organizations have come up with a program called Battle of the Belt and it's designed to get teenagers to buckle up and possibly save their own life.

Part of the campaign is some friendly competition between area high schools. But this time it's not on the basketball court or football field. It's a competition to see what school has the highest percentage of teenage drivers wearing their seatbelt. There are 36 of 41 high schools in Northeast Missouri taking part in this year's campaign.

Tana Akright is with the Northeast Missouri MoDOT office in Hannibal and is responsible for coordinating some of the events at the local high schools.

"Even though this is a campaign from October first to November ninth, the main thing that that they buckle up all the time. So this is just to try and make them aware that they will save their life," Akright said.

For about six weeks, students from many schools encouraged their classmates to buckle up. Everything from painting stencils at the entrance to their school, to handing out Dum Dum suckers to those who weren't wearing a seatbelt and Smarties to those drivers who were. The Missouri Highway Patrol even brought their Convincer to schools to show what it's like to be involved in a car crash.

"From the results we've seen, we have been able to raise awareness somewhat. But you know it's still a battle that has to be fought until we have 100 percent participation," Stephen Bogue, drivers education teacher at Palmyra High School said.

Bogue likes the Battle of the Belt campaign. The involvement the students have with each other and encouraging seat belt usage contributes to a decline in the number of injury accidents.

"I think that anything that we can do to raise seatbelt awareness and the impact that seatbelts have on saving lives is important," Bogue said.

And as Bogue echos what the campaign is promoting, he hopes there are more Smarties handed out to the drivers instead of the suckers that are ready to be handed out as well.