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» Teen Seat Belt

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 42,000 people were killed in 2006 as a result of motor vehicle crashes. More then half (55%) of those killed were unrestrained. In the same year over 2,500,000 were injured as a result of motor vehicle crashes. Sadly, young drivers 16-20 have higher fatality and injury rates in motor vehicle crashes than any other age group. This may be attributable to:

  • Inexperience: It takes time to learn how to drive a vehicle, how to drive under various circumstances and conditions, and how to react in emergency situations. Thus, the high crash involvement rate for teens. Many teens who don’t wear safety belts have not been in a crash yet and have not experienced the forces and energy involved firsthand.

  • Immaturity: Teens lack the maturity of most adults. Studies show that youth are more likely to engage in riskier behaviors while driving.

  • Immortality: Teens tend to underestimate risks of driving and crashing, and exhibit an “optimistic bias.” They do not think they will get into a crash, so they do not think they need protection if they are involved in a crash.

  • Emotionality: This trait is sometimes termed as “raging hormones.” Teen emotions affect their thinking and subsequent behavior, such as “forgetting” to wear safety belts.

  • Sensation Seeking: Many teens are adventurous and tend to seek out excitement. Not wearing a safety belt is a thrill to some of them.

  • Risk Taking: Many teens take greater risks in all areas of life than their adult counterparts. Because teens do not yet understand the risks involved in certain behaviors, nor the potential consequences, they often tend to act impulsively.

  • Power of Friends: Teens, especially high school students, are greatly influenced by their peers. If peers do not wear safety belts, they probably will not either. If peers chastise them for wearing a safety belt, many teens will unbuckle it.

  • Power of Parents: Parental permissiveness or strictness could be a factor related to changing teens’ behavior. Teens with parents who are persistent and monitor teen belt use are more likely to buckle up.

  • Distractions: There is some evidence that teens are more easily distracted while driving, especially when they have other teen passengers.

One of the most effective measures a teen can take to prevent injury and death in a crash is to wear their seatbelt. A recent safety belt use survey indicates that only 69 percent of 16- to 24-year-olds use safety belts, compared to 82 percent of children and 76 percent of adults 25 to 69. An observational survey conducted at high school parking lot entrances found that almost half (46%) of high school students were not belted when riding with an adult, even when half of the adults they were driving with were belted.

The goal of the Teen Seat Belt Safety project is to increase seatbelt usage among teen drivers by 10%. The idea is to:

  • Establish enhanced law enforcement campaigns by conducting check points before, during and after school sponsored event,
  • Develop and continue community wide media campaign targeting seatbelt use,and
  • Coordinate a mock motor vehicle crash demonstration during prom and graduation month.

Seatbelt observational survey's will be conducted during the nine month period. The project will target the Alchesay High School's campus, students and parents.

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