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Teen seat belt use up slightly in Missouri

By Marshall Griffin, KWMU

9/17/07 – The number of Missouri teenagers that use seat belts is up from last year, but advocates say too many are still being killed in traffic crashes.

The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety conducted its annual survey of teen drivers, and the number of those that buckle up rose slightly from 58 percent in 2006 to 61 percent this year.

Laura Holloway, an outreach specialist with MODOT, says in 2006 there were more teen crashes in the month of October than at any other time during the year.

"That is, in part, why we are, in addition to some of the teen programs that we have going on, we have (the) 'Never Made It' campaign beginning...We have a 'Battle of the Belts' statewide high school seat belt competition," Holloway said.

The "Never Made It" ad campaign depicts the ghosts of teenagers who didn't buckle up.

The type of vehicle driven by youths showed some disparity. 66 percent of teenagers in cars, vans, or SUV's said they wear seat belts, but only 45 percent of teens in pickup trucks said they buckle up.

"I think there's a feeling of invincibility...I think sometimes when you're in a truck, especially, you feel a little safer, you're a little higher off the ground. But in reality, you're just as likely to be ejected from the vehicle, and that is going to put you in much higher danger of serious injury or fatality in a crash," Holloway said.

More than 16-thousand teenagers at 150 high schools across the state took part in the survey.

Results for all drivers in Missouri are to be released Wednesday.

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