Auburn Middle School was a first-place winner in Virginia’s statewide Arrive Alive: Buckle Up and Slow Down campaign.
With teen driver-related fatalities on the rise in Virginia, Auburn Middle School was recognized for its efforts to educate students about driver and passenger safety as part of the statewide Arrive Alive campaign.
The annual campaign runs through August and is sponsored by Youth of Virginia Speak out about Traffic Safety, the Virginia State Police, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Office, and State Farm Insurance.
Thirty-four high schools, middle schools, and youth groups across the commonwealth participated in the campaign that focuses on reminding teens to drive safely during the high-risk warm weather months in spring and summer.
As part of the campaign, participating schools and youth groups competed for prizes by developing a creative project, completing call-to-action activities, and conducting pre- and post-seat belt checks to evaluate the campaign’s impact within their school or youth group community. The initial portion of the campaign took place from April 4 through May 6, 2022. Campaign surveys revealed a 7.6% increase in seat belt use at competing schools and youth groups.
Schools and youth groups conducted activities such as a Battle of the Belts, which focused on seat belt use and involved students racing to see who could buckle up the quickest. Other activities included door decorating contests, safe driving pep rallies, buckle-up photo booths, an egg hunt for students to hunt plastic eggs with safety messages and candy inside, producing videos about why safe driving is important, organizing mock crashes, and hosting an “I am Dead” Day with mock student obituaries.
As the statewide winner, Auburn Middle School received a check for $300, funded by State Farm Insurance.
“We are proud of these schools and youth groups for taking the lead in encouraging young drivers and passengers in their communities to buckle up, slow down, and drive safely during this high-risk period,” said Mary King, program manager for Youth of Virginia Speak out about Traffic Safety. “With the alarming increase we are seeing in teen fatalities across the state, it is especially important for schools, youth groups, community organizations, and parents to get involved in reminding teens to make good decisions when driving or riding as a passenger. Our challenge now is to increase these safe-driving messages and programs as we head into summer break and the 101 critical days of summer.”
According to data from the Virginia DMV, teen motor vehicle fatalities rose 31% from 2020 to 2021. Speed and failure to buckle up continue to be an issue with 62% of teens killed in 2021 being unrestrained. DMV data reveal that 60 percent of fatal teen driver crashes in 2021 involved speed.
With the increase in teen motor vehicle fatalities and speed-related fatal crashes, Youth of Virginia Speak out about Traffic Safety is encouraging schools and youth groups to continue promoting safe driving and passenger safety throughout the summer months. Businesses and community members may register for free buckle-up/slow-down vinyl banners, posters, and buckle-up message cards