On Oct. 30, Roxboro Community School (RCS) SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) Club members offered a simple yet essential message to their school and classmates -- #BuckleUpBulldogs.
See the video, Most of Us Buckle Up In Person County, here: BuckleUp Person Video.
In October, the SADD members had a table set up in the atrium during lunch, where they encouraged students and faculty to sign a pledge to wear their seatbelts when in a vehicle. Those who signed the pledge were entered into a drawing for prizes. They also offered car magnets and posters that encourage seatbelt usage.
SADD advisor Kara Roberts said, “The students have worked hard to create a campaign to raise awareness regarding the importance of wearing seatbelts.”
Research has shown that North Carolina and Person County have remained stagnant at 90 percent seatbelt usage for a while, she said.
Roberts added, “We had a fascinating talk with two researchers from UNC (the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) who are using Person County as a pilot to try a social norms approach to get that last 10 percent” of citizens to use their seatbelts. “It might not seem like much,” Roberts continued, “but that last 10 percent accounts for 40 percent of vehicular deaths in North Carolina. The premise of the social norms pilot is that we do what we perceive others are doing. By raising awareness about how many people do wear their seatbelts, the hope is that the last 10 percent might start to use theirs.
“As with any research program, there is no way to know if it will work,” Roberts continued. But, she said, the UNC researchers have been spread throughout the county, collecting data by roadsides by watching traffic and estimating the age and gender of those using or not using seatbelts. Drivers and passengers have likely seen the signs placed by roadsides around the county that declare the percentage of seatbelt usage.
Roberts said the UNC researchers encouraged her SADD members to do their own research in the school parking lot, to encourage more seatbelt use by RCS students and parents
“This is peer pressure at its most positive,” Roberts said.
Roberts added that she was proud of her SADD Club members for their willingness to take on the project of making others aware of the need to use seatbelts.
“It takes a lot of courage” to speak out about topics like the consequences of not using seatbelts, or why students should resist drug and alcohol use, or other destructive decisions, she said.
Roberts said the #BuckleUpBulldogs campaign came about after Ollie Jeffers, the Mothers Against Drunk Driving chapter leader for Person, Caswell and Durham counties, made Roberts aware of the UNC research. Roberts noted that Jeffers has continually been helpful with SADD projects. She added that she was grateful to RCS art teacher Anne Bettendorf and her students for their help creating posters.