STUARTS DRAFT, Va -- Car crashes kill more people between the ages of 5 and 34 than anything else in the United States. Wearing a seat belt can cut that risk in half, but yet millions of people still do not wear them.
Teens are the worst offenders when it comes to not wearing their seat belts. It is such a problem that the majority of young people involved in fatal crashes were unbuckled.
Teens at Stuarts Draft High School want to change that.
Hailey Wilt, a Stuarts Draft High School senior, joined a club to stop other students from making a bad decision.
“I think they blow it off a lot of the times. If it's us, they take it seriously, because we're their friends and their peers,” said Hailey.
Wilt has a personal reason for staying in the club.
“They're in the club, but they're not sure why they're in. I have a certain reason to be in here.”
Wilt says her cousin died two years ago in a car crash.
“She was driving really fast to go see her boyfriend and she didn't have her seat belt on. I'm more into it since then, because I see how serious it is.”
Students at Stuarts Draft High School signed pledge cards that went on display in the school's hallway. This was to encourage other students to wear their seat belt.
Her cousin's memory keeps her volunteering.
“It mostly got me involved the past two years mostly because of what happened to her.”
Martha Mikell, the club's sponsor, said she is proud of what her students accomplished.
“The competition aspect, like the seat belt competition we're doing right now really gets them motivated,” said Mikell. “It gets them involved. It gives them a stake in it. It gives them something they're getting out of it, besides just the intrinsic reward of helping people.”
Wilt said her cousin's death made her more motivated to prevent similar deaths from happening.
“It's made everything so much more real. I never knew anyone who actually got in an accident before then,” said Wilt.
She hopes people start wearing their seat belt before something bad happens to them.
The school is in a statewide contest to get seat belt participation rates up. They have won several state and national contests that promote wearing seat belts.
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