One year ago, the Owensboro Police Department began a partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to initiate a national pilot program aimed at creating a sustainable seat belt use campaign.
So on October 15, 2015, OPD launched “Buckle Up Owensboro: Seat Belts Save Lives” campaign and called upon local businesses and community groups to help spread information about seat belt use.
Today, OPD announced that one year since starting the campaign, data shows a 7% increase in overall seatbelt use in Owensboro-Daviess County.
Driver seatbelt use increased from 86% (Oct ’15) to 92.4% (Oct ’16).
Passenger seatbelt use increased from 84% (Oct ’15) to 94.8% (Oct ’16).
Overall seat belt use increased from 85.6% to 92.6%.
There is no doubt that those increases are saving lives.
How did they do it? “Community involvement is a key component to our Buckle Up Owensboro initiative,” Public Information Officer Michael Hathaway said this morning at a press conference. “The schools have had a tremendous impact.”
Owensboro, Daviess County, Owensboro Catholic, and Whitesville Trinity all conducted seat belt checks as part of the campaign. The high schools also created seatbelt safety videos that were posted on OPD’s Facebook page.
McDonald’s, Hardee’s, and ChickFilA hosted “Buckle Up for a Buck” checks in their drive-thru lanes, where motorists caught wearing a seatbelt were handed a dollar bill.
Many local businesses used Buckle Up Owensboro logos on marquee signs, websites, and social media.
And a seatbelt coalition of concerned citizens was formed to brainstorm and plan ways to spread the message. Hathaway says the coalition met six times, growing to 30 members, and plans to continue to meet.
The National Highway Transformation Safety Administration presented Chief Art Ealum, on behalf of OPD, with a plaque signifying the success of the pilot program. NHTSA now hopes to use Buckle Up Owensboro as a model for other communities to duplicate.