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According to Virginia statistics, teens between the ages of 16 and 20 are less likely to buckle up when riding in a motor vehicle than other age groups.  In 2011, 57% of the teens killed in crashes in Virginia were not wearing a safety belt.  In addition, 33% of the fatal teen crashes in 2011 involved alcohol. For that reason, we've partnered with YOVASO (Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety,) who are reaching out to schools across the state with their Buckle Up: Drive Sober  contest.

The campaign's goals include increased awareness about the importance of seat belt use, and the state’s Zero Tolerance Law prohibiting alcohol use for minors.

The three-week campaign, called Buckle Up, Drive Sober, is designed to help teens develop life-long save driving habits. This year’s theme, Mission: Possible, encourages traffic safety spies at each school to complete their mission of saving teen lives by changing negative safety behaviors. The mission is not impossible, but it is vital.

During the three-week mission, participating student groups full of traffic safety spies will develop a creative project that educates teens in their school about buckling up and driving alcohol and drug-free.  The spies will also be sponsoring a variety of awareness activities and encouraging their peers to “Buckle Up and Drive Sober.”

In addition, YOVASO will introduce a new secret mission each week that the spies have less than a week to complete. These missions vary from creating a PSA to writing a story or script.

YOVASO staffers will also post traffic safety word scrambles on the YOVASO Facebook Page throughout the campaign. The first spy to correctly decode the phrase and identify his or her school will receive extra points toward their final score.

The unique part of this campaign is that it encourages teens, whether in a prevention club or not, to create something inspirational and motivational with the traffic safety message. The creative project can be anything from a community forum to a traffic safety movie to a motivational presentation. Although buckling up and avoiding impaired driving are the key points of the mission, our spies can adapt the campaign to fit the traffic safety needs in their communities.

The “Buckle Up, Drive Sober” campaign will end on February 15.  Campaign winners will be announced on February 22. The grand prize winner will be determined by the top finishing school with the highest seat belt usage during a survey conducted by an independent law enforcement agency and YOVASO staff. 

The grand prize winner will be awarded a day’s access to the Unite International DUI/DWI Simulator. Four regional winners will receive a $500 cash prize, and five judge’s choice winners will receive a $100 cash prize.

YOVASO will be introducing a new campaign in March that will take place in April and May. The “Arrive Alive” campaign will focus on teen traffic safety in regard to warm weather driving.

For more information about the “Buckle Up, Drive Sober” or “Arrive Alive” campaigns or the YOVASO Program, contact Sarah Watson, Program Development Coordinator, at 540-345-0003 or sarahwatson@yovaso.net. YOVASO was formed in 2001 by the Virginia Highway Safety Office and membership is open to all Virginia high schools and middle schools.