Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Never Say Never

I can remember when I first got my driver’s license and I used to get so annoyed with my mother when she’d say, “Drive carefully!” Like I wasn’t going to? Besides I knew that I was a good driver and I would never get in a wreck…until I did. Luckily for me, I was buckled that night. Unfortunately, other Missouri teens aren’t so lucky and seven out of 10 teens killed in Missouri traffic crashes are unbuckled.

That’s why the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety is launching a new campaign, called “Never Say Never,” aimed at youth to get them to buckle up. Just like everything in life, anything can happen. Teens are getting in their cars to head to school, sporting events, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs and other events that fill their social calendars. Unfortunately, teens have the highest crash risk and lowest seat belt use of any age group.

That combination is deadly, yet far too many teens still think they are invincible. Because of this feeling of invincibility, teen seat belt use in Missouri is only 66 percent, much lower than state (76 percent) and national (85 percent) seat belt use.

The new teen seat belt campaign takes aim at this ‘it will never happen to me’ attitude. The campaign uses photos of crashed vehicles with phrases like “I”ll never wreck my car” and “I’ll never get hurt.” Then the campaign drives home the message “Never Say Never. Buckle Up.”

The campaign is just one of the new strategies for increasing seat belt use in Missouri. Law enforcement will also mobilize in March to enforce the seat belt law. Under the Graduated Driver License Law, teens are required to wear their seat belt and it’s a primary offense, meaning they can be pulled over solely for not wearing their seat belt.

Other strategies for increasing teen seat belt use include working with schools to revoke high school parking permits for students who don’t buckle up and rewarding students who do.

A teen seat belt observational survey in April will determine if the new strategies have increased Missouri’s teen seat belt use. Buckle Up and Arrive Alive.

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