Buckle Up and Slow Down

Hey Guys, Slow Down! There is an over-representation of fatality and injury crashes with young men, ages 18–24, in Northeast Florida rural counties caused by speeding and lower safety belt usage. We aim to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries by increasing safety belt usage and reducing excessive speeding.

We want young male drivers between the ages of 18 and 24 to change how they think about speeding and realize it’s not worth the risk to their life or future. After interviewing this target audience in Northeast Florida, we established better insight into some barriers and behavioral determinants of excessive speeding. We found they drove excessively higher speeds than the posted limits more often on rural roadways.

Rural Buckle Up and Slow Down poster and banner
Click here to download a printable version of our Buckle Up and Slow Down poster.

To help change this behavior, we have created a new safety message. The core idea is to save your life and protect your future. We need community outreach and connection to encourage slowing down and making driving safe the norm. Our new materials have country-styled belt buckles that say “Buckle-Up” and “Slow Down” with the message: Life is a journey. Enjoy the ride… safely to reach your destiny. We want young male drivers to feel it’s okay not to be the fastest on the road. 

Buckle Up and Slow Down

Help make buckling up the social norm and driving at safe speeds part of our safety culture. Please download and share our Buckle Up and Slow Down printable POSTER and square social media GRAPHIC. You may print this flyer as a handout tip card, include it in an email or newsletter, or post it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us on Facebook and Instagram @trafficsafetyteam and on Twitter and LinkedIn @trafficsafetyfl and hashtag #SlowDownFL #BuckleUpFL #TrafficSafetyFL

speeding, aggressive drivers, occupant protection, Country Buckle Up Belt and Slow Down Belt Buckle

Slow Down – District Two Market Research

Levy and Suwannee are two counties in Northeast Florida with a population under 44,000. Comparing these counties with other similarly sized counties in Florida, they are ranked most problematic (#1 and #3) in the issues of both speed and teen drivers per the FY2024 Highway Safety Matrix.

Examples of why speeding among young male drivers on rural roads is a problem include:

  • Limited law enforcement presence
  • Roadway characteristics – curvature, grade, width, and adjacent land use
  • Delayed EMS response times
  • Pickup trucks are more likely to roll over, especially when significantly altered/lifted; they are top-heavy

Formative data:

  • NHTSA 2020 Speeding Traffic Safety Facts – Thirty-five percent of male drivers in the 15- to 20-year-old age group involved in fatal crashes in 2020 were speeding, the highest among the age groups.
  • GHSA Teens and Speeding – from 2015 to 2019, teen drivers and passengers (16 – 19 years of age) had a greater proportion of speeding-related fatalities (43%) than all other age groups. Men were almost twice as likely as women to say that they drove at extreme speeds much more often than normal. 
  • Speeding-related teen driver fatal crashes – the driver is more likely to be male (37% vs. 28%), have run off the road or rolled over the vehicle, and to be unbelted.
  • Male drivers in every age group account for the greatest proportion of fatal crashes involving speeding.
  • NTSB – The relationship between speed and injury severity is consistent and direct. 
  • NHTSA – Drivers classified as speeders were almost three times as likely as sometime speeders to strongly agree with the statements, “I often get impatient with slower drivers” (45% versus 18%), “I enjoy the feeling of driving fast” (19% versus 6%), and “I try to get where I am going as fast as I can” (11% versus 3%).

Insight – Younger male drivers enjoy excessive speeding in rural areas without regard to safety or the law. Barriers and behavioral determinants:

  • Entitlement (the belief that their need to reach a destination is more important/deserving, ‘own the road.’)
  • Personable responsibility and self-protection
  • Driving over the speed limit is not dangerous for skilled drivers (male dominant attitude)
  • Hustle mentality
  • Traveling with the flow of traffic (everyone speeds)
  • Enjoy driving faster (extreme risks feel exciting, adrenaline rush)
  • Not predetermined, in-the-moment decisions to speed

Other materials, information, and resources available on our website about occupant protection, speeding, and driving tips for teens:

Buckle Up Buddy Heart

Sweetheart Craft for Valentine’s Day

Check out our cute Buckle Up Buddy Heart and bring some safety fun into Valentine’s Day. It’s time to get crafty with the kiddos (or for those of us who are just a kid at heart). Don’t be afraid of pink and red, hearts, and even glitter. This is a unique Valentine’s holiday craft with a simple traffic safety message.

Buckle Up Buddy Heart Artwork
Make your own Buckle Up Buddy Heart Valentine!

You and your family or school class can make these easy Buckle Up Buddy Hearts. The arms and legs bounce and jiggle… make us smile and want to giggle while remembering the importance of buckling up!

This is a cute DIY craft for any time of year. Kids can make a Buckle Up Buddy Heart for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or as a birthday card. In addition to being a fun art project, it also sends a positive traffic safety message. Occupant protection is always a primary concern. All drivers and passengers should be properly restrained with a lap and shoulder seat belt, and children should be correctly strapped into the right car seat that fits their size.

Download this free printable Buckle Up Buddy Heart Valentine craft sheet and follow the instructions. 

Buckle Up Buddy Heart – Valentine Craft
Template by Northeast Florida DOT District Two

Community Traffic Safety Team

SUPPLIES:

  • white card stock (or heavy paper)
  • crayons or markers
  • glitter or glitter glue (optional)
  • scissors
  • glue or glue stick
Buckle Up Buddy Heart Activity Card

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Download and print the free template provided above.
  2. Color and decorate the hearts.
  3. Cut out all the pieces.
  4. Fold arms and leg strips like an accordion.
  5. Glue the arms and legs onto the big heart.
  6. Finally, glue the small hearts on to create hands and feet.

You can write a personalized message on the back of your Valentine card. We like, “Be Mine. Be Safe. Be Buckled Up.” Don’t forget to give your special Buckle Up Buddy Heart to someone you love. Or leave it in the car as a reminder to all those you love to wear their seat belt for every car ride.

Occupant Protection

Seat belt usage remains the most effective way to reduce injuries and fatalities from crashes on our roadways. The Community Traffic Safety Teams in Northeast Florida continue to promote occupant protection and buckling up as a safety tool and a safe lifestyle. Buckling up is not just a trend; it’s a necessity, and “It’s the law.” We feel it’s imperative to continue to promote strong occupant protection messaging.

Buckle Up – Occupant Protection Campaign Graphics

occupant protection banners and posters
2023 Buckle Up Banners and Posters

New Occupant Protection materials are available at no cost in FDOT District Two.

After three years, our “Phone Down / Buckle Up” and “Safety Belts Save Lives” messages remain popular. However, we refreshed the look with brighter colors and modern styles. Help share these free banners and posters in your District Two community and display them inside and outside your organization. Please also distribute them to local events, businesses, or agencies that would also be willing to display them. Click here to place your Northeast Florida order online. 

Because of the increase in our Northeast Florida population, maintaining a solid presence for occupant protection is more critical than ever. Buckling up is the single most effective thing people can do to protect themselves in the event of a crash. Safety belts have been proven to save lives, but they only work if used. 

Below are digital graphics to download and share. Together we can make wearing safety belts a way of life for everyone. Please tag us! @trafficsafetyteam on Facebook and Instagram or @trafficsafetyfl on Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Hashtag #BuckleUpFL #TrafficSafetyFL

Buckle Up – Social Media Files:

occupant protection, Safety Belts Save Lives, Always Buckle Up
Safety Belts Save Lives 2023
distracted driving, occupant protection, Phone Down, Buckle Up
Phone Down, Buckle Up 2023
speeding, aggressive drivers, occupant protection, Country Buckle Up Belt and Slow Down Belt Buckle
Buckle Up and Slow Down 2024

2020-2022 Occupant Protection Designs

  • Retro Style – Phone Down. Buckle Up.
  • EKG Lifeline – Safety Belts Save Lives. Always Buckle Up!
  • Seat Belt Angel – Be Prepared. Be Protected. Buckle Up Religiously!
2’x5′ Buckle Up Banners from 2020
Buckle Up Pop-Up Banner Stands from 2021
Phone Down, Buckle Up 2020
Always Buckle Up 2020
Buckle Up Religiously 2020

Buckle Up Banners About Town

The “Buckle Up” artwork is printed as an 11″x17″ poster, a 2’x5′ banner, and a 3’x6.5′ pop-up banner stand. All materials are in full color and beautiful to display. They are available, while supplies last, to our Northeast FDOT District Two Traffic Safety Team members, partners, organizations, agencies, businesses, and local community groups. Check out some of the occupant protection banners displayed throughout the 18 counties in District Two.


Additional Occupant Protection Resources:

Buckle Up Religiously

If you knew something you could do every day that would save you and your family from possible loss of life or serious injury, wouldn’t you do it?

Be prepared and protected by buckling up every time you get in the car! Wear your safety seat belt for your family, for yourself, and for life.

Buckling up is still the most effective way to save lives and reduce injuries from crashes on our roadways, and did you know…

  • You are twice as likely to be severely injured or killed when unbuckled.
  • A child unrestrained in a 30 mph crash is the same as a child dropped from a third-story window.
  • Chances are that someone you know will be involved in a vehicle crash this year.

One Click Does the Trick … wear your seat belt and secure all children in a proper child safety seat.

Buckle Up Religiously has been part of Northeast Florida’s ongoing occupant protection campaign for more than a decade. In 2020, we designed a new graphic with a buckled safety belt and angel wings. Community partners, churches, athletic groups, and organizations displayed these posters and banners throughout our 18 counties in District Two.

Buckle Up Religiously outreach and education pieces created by the FDOT District Two’s Community Traffic Safety Program.

These are popular posters to display, tip cards to hand out, and flyers to insert in local church bulletins. Click on a graphic to download and print to distribute or share on social media. Please tag us on Facebook and Instagram @trafficsafetyteam and Twitter and LinkedIn @trafficsafetyfl and hashtag #BuckleUpReligiously

In addition, we hope you will explore and share more traffic safety information, tips, and resources. Please visit the following:

National Seat Belt Day

National Seat Belt Day is observed annually on November 14th to help encourage people to buckle up. The event was originated in 2019 by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), rideshare service Uber, and Volvo to celebrate the invention of the three-point seat belt in 1959 and promote the importance of using one every time they get in a vehicle.

While seat belts are easy to take for granted, they can make a huge difference between minor injuries and severe, life-threatening injuries or fatalities in a crash.

Ideas for National Seat Belt Day

  1. Buckle up – It takes seconds but can save you thousands of dollars in medical bills. More importantly, it can also save your life.
  2. Encourage others to wear seat belts – Be an example and insist that everyone in your car buckles up.
  3. Spread the news – Discuss the history and importance of wearing a seat belt at the dinner table with your family, at work with colleagues, and on social media with friends.
  4. Help Educate Children – Starting good habits at a young age will last a lifetime. Try our Buckle Up Buddy Heart craft and Ride Safe activity sheet!

Remind your friends and family that seat belts save lives. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an estimated 42,915 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes last year, a 10.5% increase from the 38,824 fatalities in 2020. In 2020, 10,893 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants were killed in crashes in the United States. Among the young adults (18 to 34) killed, more than half (60%) were completely unrestrained — one of the highest percentages for all age groups. “Behind each of these numbers is a life tragically lost and a family left behind.” The simple act of using a safety seat belt can make the difference between life and death.

Five Fast Facts

  1. Seat belts reduce fatalities by 45% among front-seat passengers and drivers.
  2. Seat belts prevent serious injuries by 50%.
  3. The three-point seat belt disperses the energy of the moving body to the chest, pelvis, and shoulders, reducing whiplash and abdominal injuries.
  4. Airbags aren’t enough! The force of an airbag can seriously hurt or even kill passengers who aren’t wearing seat belts, and airbags don’t prevent passengers or drivers from being ejected during crashes.
  5. You have an influence! Research shows that children whose parents wear seat belts are more likely to buckle up. Parents, caregivers, and peers can impact and encourage teens to buckle up.

National Seat Belt Day is an excellent time to review your practices and ensure everyone in your household understands why seat belt use is essential. These are some simple things that you can do to improve the safety of you and your passengers:

  • Always buckle your seat belt before driving
  • Make sure the person in your passenger seat is buckled up
  • Insist that rear-seat passengers are buckled up, regardless of state laws
  • Refuse to go unless your passengers are buckled up
  • Understand Florida’s child seat belt laws  
  • Know Florida’s laws for your child safety seats and booster seats

The History of Seat Belts

Seat belts have been around since the 19th century. Edward J. Claghorn received the first U.S. patent for safety belts, but his design was not for cars. In the 1930s, physicians recommended lap belts in their vehicles and suggested manufacturers do the same in their models. Lap belts were used in public transport like streetcars, preventing passengers from flying out of their seats during accidents.

The first vehicle in the U.S. to offer seat belts as a safety option was the Nash Rambler, back in 1950 when seat belts were still a novelty. Despite growing evidence that they helped save lives and reduce injuries, critics still resisted their use, claiming they were ineffective and may trap passengers if their cars were on fire or submerged in water.

In 1958, Saab became the first vehicle manufacturer to fit seat belts as standard features. One year later, Nils Bohlin — Volvo’s first chief safety engineer — patented the three-point seat belt. It improved the rudimentary two-point seat belt, which sometimes did more harm than good in accidents. The Swedish carmaker created the three-point seat-belt system in 1959, which has since become the global standard.

Safety Seat Belts in America

After making the three-point seat belt standard in Sweden, Volvo released the patent so other car manufacturers could adopt this essential safety feature in their models. By 1968, seat belts were a standard requirement in all U.S.-manufactured vehicles. Today, seat belts are a valued safety mechanism in cars, helping to save thousands of lives and millions of dollars in medical costs.

Seat belts have been standard in America for decades, though widespread use is a more recent occurrence. The good news is that primary seat belt use has been increasing; according to the GHSA, the national usage rate was 58% in 1994 and rose to 90% in 2018. Seat belt laws vary from state to state. Florida law requires that all drivers, all front seat passengers, and all passengers under the age of 18 fasten their safety belts. 

Seat belts are undeniably helpful in increasing the safety of drivers and passengers. The Community Traffic Safety Program in Northeast Florida hopes everyone wears a safety belt. Whether sitting in the driver’s seat or a passenger in the front seat or back, please buckle up! Also, ensure children are appropriately restrained in a federally approved car seat.

Additional Occupant Protection Information and Resources