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Design contest open to Va. students

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

Students across Virginia are invited to take part in a sticker design contest for a 2020 Fall Campaign aimed at increasing seatbelt usage and reducing speeding among youth and teens. Top prize is $100.

Youth of Virginia Speak Out About Traffic Safety (YOVASO) kicked off the five-week campaign, “Drive for Change: Buckle Up and Slow Down,” last week. Although there is no YOVASO group in Pulaski County, Casey Taylor, YOVASO program development coordinator, said all Virginia students, ages 11-20, are welcome to participate in the contest.

In fact, Taylor is hopeful local students will participate in the contest and decide to become involved with YOVASO. “We would love to have an active club there again!” she added.

Contest participants are asked to design a sticker or decal containing a “buckle up” and/or “slow down” message that would influence youth and teens to wear seatbelts and follow posted speed limits. Artwork must be submitted by Oct. 14.

Contest entry forms, additional guidelines and submission instructions are available at yovaso.org/driveforchange.

The top five designs will be selected by popular vote on social media during National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 8-14. Winners will be announced Oct. 23.

In addition to $100, artwork of the top winner will be produced on a YOVASO 2021 Arrive Alive campaign. The winner also will receive 100 stickers to share with family and friends. Second through fifth place finishers receive $25.

Students who wish to participate in the Drive for Change campaign can register for a kit at #DriveForChange. The kit includes driver and passenger safety resources, project ideas, etc.

A grant from Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and additional contributions by State Farm supports the 2020 campaign, prizes and educational incentives/materials.

According to Taylor, “Drive for Change: Buckle Up and Slow Down will encourage youth and teens to develop a lifelong buckle up habit by reminding them that seat belts are their best defense against injury and death in a crash.”

She noted 65 teens between the ages of 15 and 20 died in automobile crashes in Virginia during 2019. Fifty-six percent were not wearing seatbelts. Preliminary data for 2020 shows 59% of the 37 teens killed as of Aug. 31 were not wearing seatbelts. Also, about half of fatal teen crashes are caused by excessive speed, YOVASO reports.

“The simple step of buckling a seat belt saves lives but, sadly, we are seeing an increase in the percentage of unrestrained teens killed in crashes in Virginia this year,” said Mary King, YOVASO program manager. “Through the ‘Drive for Change’ campaign, we are challenging our teens to change that statistic by influencing and encouraging each other to always buckle up. We hope every teen in Virginia will join the campaign and use their creativity to help save lives.”

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