Initiatives / Teen Seat Belt Project
Teens have higher fatality and injury rates in motor vehicle crashes than any other age group. One of the most effective measures a teen can take to prevent injury and death in a crash is to wear a seat belt, but the majority of fatally injured teens are not buckled up. While observed seat belt use for teens has risen gradually, the majority of 16-20 year old passenger vehicle occupants killed in car crashes continue to be unrestrained (58 percent in 2006). Past demonstration projects and evaluations of teen belt use indicate that strategies that have been effective to increase belt use for adults are also the most promising strategies for teens. These include primary laws and highly-publicized enforcement of belt laws (such as “Click it or Ticket” programs). Historically, NHTSA has done smaller-scale, community-based projects to address this problem area. Unfortunately, seat belt use for teens in fatal crashes has remained virtually unchanged and necessitates a concentrated, intense, large-scale effort.
In May 2009, the NHTSA Region 6 states will launch a region-wide teen seat belt campaign which will emphasize high-visibility enforcement, messages and materials regarding enforcement of seat belt laws. The campaign has been tailored specifically towards teens and their families.
The project is modeled after previously successful regional efforts to increase belt use in high-risk groups (e.g., pick-up truck and rural drivers and occupants) where uniform messaging and coordinated outreach and enforcement efforts across States built the energy and momentum needed to increase seat belt use across State borders. Best practices from two successful statewide teen seat belt demonstration projects conducted in Colorado and Nevada in 2007 and 2008 will also be incorporated into this project.
The region-wide approach will focus on geographic areas within the five Region 6 States (Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas and the Indian State) which have been selected because of a high incidence of unbuckled teen deaths. The project activity will complement the national "Click It or Ticket" (CIOT) initiative. The first campaign wave will be conducted in May 2009 in conjunction with CIOT. There will be two interim waves and a final campaign again conducted in conjunction with the May 2010 CIOT mobilization. An evaluation of the campaign activity and results will be performed including the examination of control areas in each State.
For more information and campaign materials visit http://www.region6teenbeltproject.org/