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For more information, contact Kara Price, MoDOT Community Relations, at 314-713-2717.

September 13, 2011 – For immediate release

High School Buckle-Up Challenge Gets Groovin’

Jefferson City, MO Battle of the Belt, a high school seat belt challenge will be groovin’ this year thanks to incentives provided by Ford Driving Skills for Life. Through a grant provided by the Governors Highway Safety Association, Ford Driving Skills for Life donated $20,000 worth of iTunes cards to be used as rewards for schools that sign up to be part of the challenge.

“Battle of the Belt is a fun and creative way to help teens learn the importance of  making it click,” said Leanna Depue, chair of Executive Committee of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety. “It is unique because teens survey their peers and provide activities that reinforce how seat belts save lives.”

Only 67 percent of Missouri teens buckle up, according to a 2011 survey, compared with 79 percent of Missourians and 85 percent of people across the nation. In 2010, 64 Missouri teens were killed in crashes where they were unbuckled.

Ford Driving Skills for Life is proud to partner with the State of Missouri on this innovative effort to increase seat belt use,” said Jim Graham, program manager for Ford Driving Skills for Life. “Our program is committed to helping teens be safer drivers and seat belt use is the most effective tool to prevent injury or death in the event of a crash.”

The Battle of the Belt Challenge involves an unannounced safety belt survey of students, followed by a peer-designed educational blitz, with a final surprise safety belt survey to determine if a change of behavior has occurred. In addition to the program, schools have the opportunity to submit a 30-second video spot aimed at encouraging their peers to buckle up.

This year’s program will run from October 3 to November 11, 2011. There is still time to sign up at  www.savemolives.com. The winning schools receive cash prizes to be used to further educate the students on the importance of seat belt use.

More than 130 schools participated in Battle of the Belt in 2010. State and regional prizes are awarded to schools with the highest and most improved seat belt use. The program is jointly sponsored by the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, American Family Insurance and the Missouri College of Emergency Physicians.

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