Seat Belt Study

Seat Belt Study
By: Holly Brantley

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO --The Missouri Department of Transportation says only 56% of Missouri teenagers wear safety belts. In the past three years, nearly 600 young people died in Missouri traffic crashes. Of those 600, 78% of those teens were not buckled.
We decided to do our own informal research to find out how many young drivers actually buckle up. Of 40 young drivers we spotted on the streets of Cape Girardeau, 18 (45%) wore seat belts, 22 (55%) did not.
We caught Liz Melvin and Heather Kirby walking to their car after class. We asked these college students to show us the first thing they do when they climb inside. Heather immediately puts her seat belt on, Liz does not. Liz says she usually just forgets about it. "Usually when I'm in the car she tells me to put it on," Liz said. "That's just what I've always been taught," said Heather.
Many drivers say seat belt safety begins with Mom and Dad. Others say it's just not a habit and they're not convinced it could save their life. That's something experts say has to change as they continue to stress the importance of buckling up. "I think that anytime you get someone to do a good safety habit like putting your seatbelt on you reduce injuries and save lives," said Safe Communities Program Coordinator, Sharee Galnore. "That's what it's all about and that might make the difference in life or death or serious injury if they are in a traffic crash." Galnore helps coordinate a program called Battle of the Belt.
Twenty Southeast Missouri High Schools are getting ready to compete for incentives simply by encouraging teen drivers to wear a seat belt. It's a program they hope grows along with the number of drivers who choose to wear a seat belt.