Nothing like a little friendly competition to drive home a point.
The Center for Traffic Safety is holding a contest to see which area high school students are best when it comes to buckling up and which school improves the most in seat-belt usage.
The York County High School Seat Belt Challenge is based on a successful program the center has run in Lancaster County for years.
Here's how it works:
Last month, center workers parked themselves at area high schools and secretly noted the percentage of students wearing their seat belts. They shared the results with all high schools in York County and challenged them to do better.
At stake is a $500 grant for the school with the highest seat-belt usage and an identical grant for the greatest increase in usage rates compared to last month's survey. The money is earmarked for programs promoting traffic safety.
The second unannounced survey will be conducted some time soon, and the winners will be announced next month.
The Center for Traffic Safety's timing couldn't be better.
Last December Pennsylvania's new teen driving law took effect. Among the stricter rules was a change that made it a primary offense for teen drivers not to wear their seat belts. Previously, it was a secondary offense, meaning police could only cite the driver if he or she committed some other infraction.
Now if our youngest drivers don't "click it," they will very likely get a ticket.
Also, the end of school is just around the corner, and teens will be driving more -- either to summer jobs or visiting with friends. Best they get in the habit of using their seat belts now if they haven't already.
The results of the initial survey weren't awful, actually. Seat-belt usage ranged from 66 percent to 88 percent at the nine schools that choose to participate in the challenge.
But it's imperative to reach that 100 percent figure -- not because it's the law, but because too many young people are dying in crashes. It's the No. 1 killer of teens in this country.
A little incentive like this challenge is a great tool to get the message out.
It's disappointing only nine high schools in the county accepted it.