Kevon Thompson wasn’t the fastest at putting on a seat belt, but he says he'll never forget to buckle up after racing his classmates during a “Battle of the Belts” contest at his school.
Thompson was one of 40 students who formed groups of four to race to buckle their seat belts in each seat of a parked car in Deer Park High School’s parking lot Thursday.
“This competition shows that it’s not hard to put your seat belt on,” said Thompson, 18. “So there’s no excuse. I always wear my seat belt.”
Senior class valedictorian Tyler Doogan and salutatorian Jordan Rios finished with their team in 48 seconds, coming in first and winning $25 iTunes gift cards for their efforts.
The event, held during Global Youth Traffic Safety Month, aims to remind teens of the importance of buckling up in any seat of the car, and how easy and fast it can be.
Though New York State law requires only people ages 16 and younger to buckle up in the backseat, Thompson and other students agreed that even in the backseat, seat belts should be worn. Unsecured passengers can be ejected and injure or kill those in front.
Sherry Deacon, who heads the Deer Park High School Health Education Action Team, has been working hard to spread the word by holding other teen safe driving events.
“If a person walks away from a car accident it’ll be because they had their seat belt on,” said Deacon, 62, of Levittown. “The way I see it, if students keep hearing this from us they just might take it seriously and become more responsible behind the wheel.”
The event is part of “Teen Crashes GTG,” (Got to Go) a joint initiative of the New York State Department of Health, National Safety Council and the NYS Teen Safe Driving Coalition.
Faith Ahmad’s team came in third place, finishing in just over a minute. The senior not only enjoyed the challenge, but also found the event educational.
“It was thrilling,” said Ahmad, 17. “It’s a neat idea to get students to buckle up and a really fun way to show us that it takes seconds to put on your seat belt. It’s easy.”