York Suburban, Eastern York win 2015 Seat Belt Challenge


York Suburban won the fourth annual York/Adams High School Seat Belt Challenge with a nearly perfect 97 percent usage rate.

Suburban bested 12 other schools and on Wednesday was named the winner of this year's challenge, organized by the York Area Highway Safety Council's Safe Teen Driving Committee and the Center for Traffic Safety.

The school's Students Against Destructive Decisions group hung posters and spoke on the morning announcements to promote seat belt use during the challenge, said junior Lindsey Hartshorne, 17.

"I think we should just keep putting posters up" as a constant reminder, she said.

'Unbelievable': As teens arrived or departed from school during the week of Feb. 2, Seat Belt Challenge officials secretly observed their seat belt habits, said Wayne Harper, director for the Center for Traffic Safety.

After a month of promoting seat belt use, participating schools were then subject to another unannounced survey during the week of April 6, he said.

In that time, Suburban's usage rate went from 89 to 97 percent — an "unbelievable" final result for high school students, Harper said. Ten of the 13 high schools saw improvement, and the final overall range was 80 to 97 percent seat belt usage, he said.

Hartshorne said that wearing seat belts "seems like something everyone does," and SADD adviser Jolene Kingston said she was pleased with the progress.

"It's good to know that people are finally paying attention," she said.

Best progress: The school that showed the best progress was Eastern York High School, which improved its usage rate from 78 to 91 percent, Harper said.

"We believe the challenge makes a difference," he said.

Eastern juniors Alexis Graham, 16, and Samantha Staub, 17, said they used posters, videos and announcements to encourage seat belt usage.

"I think it's great," said Principal Timothy Mitzel. "I'm very proud of them."

The school will make sure to continue to promote good decision-making — and look into ways to win the competition outright in the future, he said.

State Farm Insurance awarded each school a $500 mini-grant and a free photobooth to use at their respective proms.

— Reach Mollie Durkin at mdurkin@yorkdispatch.com.