Left to right: Missy Coyle, Safe Kids Florida Suncoast Pasco Council Chair, Ridgewood High School Safety Resource Officer Corporal Josh Peters, Isabella Discepolo, Theresa Radeker

Tampa Bay/Hudson, FL - Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point announces that it has awarded a $500 prize to the students of Ridgewood High School for the "most improved safety belt use" while driving in the "Battle of the Belts."

"Battle of the Belts" promotes seatbelt use among teens. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for American teenagers. In fact, when it comes to motor vehicle crashes, teens have the highest fatality rate of any age group. They also have the lowest safety belt use rates of all drivers. This rate is even lower where there are multiple teens in the vehicle. The "Battle of the Belts" program was initiated in an effort to change these statistics and increase safety belt use among teenagers with our partners Safe Kids of Pasco County.

This year in Pasco County a campaign was recently conducted at participating high schools with our partners Safe Kids/ Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital. The goal was to have high school students convince their peers to always wear their safety belts. Student organizations were asked to create a unique campaign for their high school to encourage fellow students to wear their seatbelts during every ride in a motor vehicle.

There were several award categories such as highest seatbelt use, most improved seatbelt use, best school campaign, best public service announcement, best poster, and best essay. The trauma center at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point sponsored the prize for the most improved seatbelt use. Ridgewood High School had the highest percent of increased safety belt use in Pasco County.