Survey: Room for improvement on seat belt use
Nov. 25, 2003

The majority of Sherwood High School student drivers and their passengers are buckling up for safety, according to a recent survey conducted by Project Change, an Olney area teen-led organization seeking to improve teen health and safety.

But there is still room for improvement, the survey concludes.

On the afternoon of Oct. 29, Project Change students surveyed 339 student drivers and passengers leaving the Sherwood High School parking lot in 200 cars. Nearly 70 percent were wearing their seat belts.

But that leaves an estimated 30 percent unbuckled -- a figure still too high for Project Change adult Co-President Ellen Lent.

"On an ordinary day in October, 104 high school students did an extraordinary thing," Lent said. "They left their school parking lot by car with no seat belt on. Some were drivers, some were front-seat passengers, others were in the back seat. If they do that on a daily basis, they greatly increase their risk of injury or death."

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds in the United States, Project Change reported. Two-thirds of those killed in car accidents are unrestrained.

The Project Change survey revealed that about 24 students surveyed were back-seat passengers, and 63 percent of them were not buckled.

The surveyed revealed that 80 percent of students at the wheel were wearing seat belts, but only 57 percent of front-seat passengers were buckled.

Project Change youths were trained to conduct the seat belt survey at meetings sponsored by the National Organizations for Youth Safety (NOYS).

Project Change Co-President Jonathan Swann, a senior at Sherwood, attended the NOYS training last June.

"It was a great way to network with other organizations, such as Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), to compare events and activities regarding youth safety," Swann said in a press release.

This is the second seat belt check that Project Change has conducted at Sherwood, with the support of Principal James Fish, the organization reported.

Previous results were similar -- approximately 26 percent of those surveyed were not wearing seat belts in that first seat belt check.

"I want to thank the Project Change youths who took the time to be trained, conduct the survey and tally the results," Lent said. "By reminding students to buckle up, they have furthered our group's mission to keep teens safe and healthy."