The poster was designed by Science Hill High School student Joshua Smith. (Contributed/ Jan Mould)
High schoolers don’t always have the best reputation when it comes to driving, but Science Hill High School students are making an effort to change that.
Participating in the Battle of the Belt Campaign –– started in Missouri by the Emergency Nurses Association and St. Johns Hospital –– SHHS has adopted the slogan “Let’s Graduate Together –– BUCKLE UP,” to help encourage students to wear their seat belts while driving.
School Resource Officer Tony Ward said the battle is a statewide competition among high schools that aims to teach student drivers the importance of buckling up.
“The main goal is to reduce the number of motor vehicle related injuries and fatalities among Tennessee high school students just by increasing safety belt use in Tennessee,” Ward said. “We’re going to do occasional seat belt checks. I’ve already done two. We’ll just set up in the morning time and observe the students as they come in and just see whether they’re wearing their seat belts or not. I mark it down how many cars I check and how many students are in the car, how many have their seat belts on.”
He said he, Johnson City Medical Center representative Carol Jones, as well as teacher Jan Mould’s health education classes, have spearheaded the campaign and have been keeping up with its progress.
Jones and Johnson City Police Department Lt. Larry Williams have come to Mould’s classes to speak about the campaign. Ward said he believes the students have really taken the campaign seriously so far and thinks they have been absorbing the information provided to them.
Mould’s health classes have also been making posters for the campaign, as well as making public service announcements over the intercom to inform their fellow peers about the campaign and the risks associated with not buckling up.
Ward said there is a higher percentage of teenagers, more than any other age group, that do not wear their seat belts, so education about seat belt safety is crucial.
“When you’re involved in a motor vehicle collision and let’s say your car is traveling at 40 mph, your body is actually traveling 40 mph as well,” he said. “If your car collides with another car or a tree, and your car instantly comes to a stop, your body is still traveling at that 40 mph, so that causes your body to collide with the steering wheel, the windshield and that’s what causes most of the deaths in a vehicle crash.”
Ward said a representative from the Tennessee Highway Patrol is scheduled to speak to the class early next year and will be bringing a rollover simulator to show students what happens to the body in a car rollover crash.
“A trophy will be awarded at the end of each school year to the school with the highest percentage of seat belt use and best educational campaign,” Ward said. “Mrs. Mould’s class is doing a great job. The two seat belt checks that I’ve done so far, I’ve had over 90 percent of kids wearing seat belts, which is great.”
The campaign concludes April 1.