EDITORIAL: Kudos to safe students

York Dispatch

Prom season is typically the time to remind young drivers that being behind the wheel of a car is a serious responsibility.

With celebrations come a host of challenges for students beyond navigating the traffic patterns.

It was good to see this past week that York Suburban won the fourth annual York/Adams High School Seat Belt Challenge with a nearly perfect 97 percent usage rate.

Suburban and 12 other schools participated in the challenge organized by the York Area Highway Safety Council's Safe Teen Driving Committee and the Center for Traffic Safety.

Kudos to Suburban and other schools that promoted seat belt safety for a month and subjected their young commuters to unannounced surveys of students' seat belt usage in February and then again in April to see how the safety campaign affected students habits.

Suburban students improved participation from 89 to 97 percent. The overall range for all schools was from 80 to 97 percent.

It's proven that seat belts save lives when those using them are involved in crashes.

In fact, we thought it was pretty much a no-brainer. Of course everyone buckles up. This is one of those long-standing safety campaigns that we thought was preaching to the converted by now. So to see that prior to the campaign students were not all buckled up was a bit of a surprise.

But of course, it shouldn't be. There is a whole new crop of inexperienced drivers taking the wheel every year.

It goes to show the adults that awareness really goes a long way to establish good habits — or change newly formed bad habits. And this awareness is crucial because habits associated with driving can be a matter of life or death.

The students were involved in the safety campaign and in getting the word out. They also had the opportunity to win photo booths for use at prom. So involvement and rewards are also a crucial part of raising teens' awareness.

The lesson here is that no matter the safety message, we must not forget that open communication, early and often, is a significant factor in success.

Now that they are buckling up, it's time to continue the awareness campaigns around drinking and driving and texting and driving.

If we don't continue to champion for their safety and well-being, young lives could be cut short before they've really begun.