Obliterated vehicles were placed at five high schools last week as part of an awareness initiative between Hernando County Sheriff’s Office and school administrators dubbed, “Battle of the Belts.”
According to the sheriff’s office, this year marks the second year the initiative has been in place. The Vehicles were set at the front of the schools so students could see first-hand the effects of a car crash.
The association between death and smashed vehicles was hyphenated when a deputy dressed up as the Grim Reaper and roamed each of the high schools, delivering T-shirts to 10 “pre-determined students” from each school.
The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office provided “contracts for life” to the Hernando County School Board to be disseminated to the students, which are to be signed by the student and his or her parent as an indication of their commitment to car safety.
The Reaper also delivered a message regarding the use of seatbelts and the devastating outcomes that can occur from not wearing one.
Traffic deputies who worked closely with the project said if their efforts help save one student’s life, then their mission was accomplished.
Law enforcement officers, along with school administrators, worked to deliver a deputy-conducted survey several weeks ago on each school campus to determine the percentage of drivers and passengers who use seatbelts. The surveys were not enforcement efforts, but solely for data collection and the promotion of safety, according to the sheriff’s office.
Each high school participated in a seatbelt safety-themed poster/billboard competition and a seatbelt safety-themed public service announcement video. The schools compete against one another, with the winning school being awarded $250.
The student that designs the winning poster/billboard will win a television courtesy of Walmart, according to the sheriff’s office.
A Florida Highway Patrol sergeant also appeared at three of five high schools with a “vehicle roll-over simulator” to demonstrate to students how unrestrained occupants can be thrown from a vehicle.
Once the final surveys have been completed and the data compiled, the school with the highest percentage of seatbelt use will receive $750. The school with the most “contracts for life” returned will receive $250, and the school with the best overall campaign will receive $1,000.
In order to be eligible for best overall campaign, the school must participate in all categories and submit a non-electronic portfolio. Campaigns will be judged based on innovative and creative ideas.
The damaged vehicles were provided by R. Tates Auto Body and Crossroad Towing, and all prize monies were donated by the Hernando County Youth Education Services Board.