A group of Salt Lake valley high schools increased their overall seatbelt use 9 percent this school year by participating in various student-created programs. The Salt Lake County Health Department program to increase seatbelt use among young drivers works in collaboration with the “Don’t Drive Stupid Campaign” and the Utah Highway Patrol’s Adopt-A-High School. Six high schools participated in the program. Granger High had the biggest improvement in seatbelt use at 13 percent while Herriman High is ending the school year with the highest overall seatbelt use among the schools observed at 89 percent. Ashley Brandis is health educator with the county. She says engaged students make the difference in reducing teenage auto fatalities and injuries.
“These numbers are actually very encouraging and show that peer-to-peer education works,” says Brandis.
She says the students’ positive messages about using seatbelts and slowing down can be very beneficial compared to the tradition of showing images of accident scenes.
“A lot of the students created these activities on their own and I think that was very important because they knew what their peers would like," says Brandis. "And we offered them tools to utilize such as impairment goggles, posters and different types of tools that they could use in their own schools.”
Brandis says she hopes more schools will participate next year. Staff and volunteers including UHP Officers conducted the fall and spring observations. The other high schools in the survey were Corner Canyon, Riverton, Hunter and Copper Hills.