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Maclay Wins Battle of the Belts

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By Tom Flanigan

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-904023.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – For the past eight years, a competition has been held among local high schools to encourage seat belt use. Tom Flanigan reports the competition continues, even though the lack of seat belts is now a primary traffic offense in Florida.

Tallahassee law firm Fonvielle Lewis Foote & Messer sponsors the competition. Partner Jim Messer had two checks in the amount of a thousand dollars for the winning schools.

"This year's most improved award goes to Godby High School with a ten percent improvement."

Godby had an average of 65-percent of student motorists buckled up this year. Messer also had a check for the school in the county with the highest compliance rate.

"Maclay High School had a 95-percent seat belt usage, and that's tremendous."

Now there's even more reason to buckle up. Not wearing a seat belt can bring the offending driver a 123-dollar ticket. Still, Messer says his firm has no plans to scrap the yearly competition.

"We want to get youths' attention, and if we get their attention and we can get them to buckle up, we can get them to encourage their parents to buckle up. And if we can do that, we can save a lot of lives, and that's the goal."

Countywide, seat belt use by high school students has increased about thirty-percent since the competition kicked off eight years ago.