Students Spy on Their Peers' Seatbelt Use

Published 11/13 2013 03:27PM

Updated 11/13 2013 06:23PM

BRANSON, Mo. -- Students might see some heads poking out of the bushes on their way to class. That's because 40 Ozarks schools are partnered with mercy hospital to stealthily catch students in the act of wearing their seatbelt.

Members of the Branson Student Student council waited diligently on Wednesday morning, dutifully tracking the drivers and passengers who entered the  parking lot.

“Yes on the driver,” said council member Ashley Shockey as she noted a driver wearing her seatbelt.

The council conducted a similar experiment as a trial two weeks before. More than 20 percent of the student commuters came in with an unfastened belt.

But the second trial went much better, thanks to some coaxing from teachers and peers.

David Brenner, one of the council’s teacher sponsors, said social pressure often encouraged students to do the right thing and buckle up.

“It's their peers out here, standing out here in the cold,” he said. “It's a brisk morning. We're just putting something in the back of their mind in the front.”

According to an annual Department of Transportation survey, Branson students wore their seatbelts only 62 percent of the time in 2013. The average for all Missouri students was 68 percent.

Another report maps unbuckled crashes in Missouri. Many take place in rural areas on winding country roads like those in Taney Co.

“People in general they think they're just too cool for it,” said Courtney Bressler, another council member. “But it takes like 5 seconds and it can save your life so it's worth it, really.”

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