AUSTINTOWN -- If more teen-age drivers buckled up every time they get in the car, fewer front-seat passengers would be killed or injured in an accident.
That's the message Mahoning Safe Communities and the District Board of Health tried to get out to young drivers when they started a seat-belt campaign in February.
As a result, seat-belt use is up among students in all nine high schools that participated in the program, said Tracy Styka, coordinator.
The program used peer education and awareness campaigns to target high school drivers by demonstrating the importance of seat belts, even for short trips.
"We hope they will have developed a new habit," Styka said.
Raised funds: Students Against Destructive Decisions, the National Honors Society and other groups within each school came up with ways to raise money for prizes to be awarded to those who buckled up, Styka said. A teacher or resource officer helped oversee those efforts.
Drivers 18 and under are a high-risk group because of lack of experience, but many think they are invincible, Styka said.
About 58 percent of Mahoning County's drivers buckle up, which is below the state average of 65 percent, authorities say.
Seat-belt use reduces the risk of death to front-seat passengers by 45 percent, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety.