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Leesburg High Schools Wage ‘Battle of the ‘Burg’ for Seatbelt Awareness

The annual police-sponsored competition aims to encourage teens to buckle up.

Leesburg high schools again compete in Put It Together seatbelt campaign. Credit: Virginia State Police
Leesburg high schools again compete in Put It Together seatbelt campaign. Credit: Virginia State Police

For a third year, Leesburg area high school students will compete to see which school can encourage seatbelt usage best, and it appears to be paying off. A survey conducted at Heritage, Loudoun County and Tuscarora high schools shows 84 percent to 94 percent of the students were using seatbelts, compared with 66.7 percent on average in 2012.

The Leesburg Police Department and the Virginia State Police introduced the “Put It Together,” or PIT, campaign in May 2012, and in the spirit of competition the schools re-dubbed it the “Battle of the ‘Burn.”

“We find the high school students are not only energetic, but also very competitive about this contest just by the creative ways they are participating in the ‘Put It Together’ challenge,” F/Sgt. A.D. Blankenship, VSP’s Loudoun area commander. “It’s a win for all public safety professionals as every time we have one more teenager buckle up, that’s one more student who is not putting his or her life at risk in a vehicle.”

The challenge began Dec. 6 and ends Dec. 13.

This year, the high schools were asked to create and produce a 30-second video incorporating the principles of the PIT Challenge. Once submitted, the Virginia State Police will post the videos on its YouTube and Facebook pages.

In addition to facing a panel of judges, the schools must earn points based on the number of “likes/views” their videos receive. The Put It Together (PIT) challenge consists of three elements:

  1. Pre-survey of seat belt usage at each school by law enforcement
  2. Educational programs conducted within each school and the community by students from each school
  3. Post survey of seat belt usage at each school by law enforcement

Contributions from local merchants enable the program to offer a scholarship to the student at each of the three schools who makes a significant contribution to promoting PIT.

“We appreciate the support of high school staff and faculty who help make this campaign a success each year,” said Leesburg Police spokesman Lt. Jeff Dubé. “The support of the community is also truly phenomenal as participating merchants have been very helpful with their contributions to make this challenge as engaging and fun for the students to embrace.”

Statistics show seat belts reduce the likelihood of fatal or serious injuries by 50 percent. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts helped save nearly 12,000 lives nationwide in 2011. In Virginia, 465 unbuckled teenagers (between the ages of 16 and 18) were injured in a vehicle crash in 2012, according the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ Virginia Highway Safety Office.

AAA Mid-Atlantic and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) are assisting the police departments with the PIT challen

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