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:

Safety Belt Use in Northeast Florida

New 2022 Safety Belt Use in Florida final report is now available. The survey included 165 newly selected sites across the 15 counties surveyed. Florida’s statewide safety belt usage went down 1.8 percentage points, from 90.1% in 2021 to 88.3% in 2022. Three of our 18 counties in District Two were surveyed.

2022 Survey Results for Safety Belt Use in Northeast Florida

  • Alachua County 90.8% (down from 95%)
  • Duval County 87.5% (up from 87.3%)
  • St Johns County 86.6% (down from 92.1%)

Alachua and St. Johns yielded their lowest usage over the five measurements in the survey for the years 2017 through 2022. Some decreases could be due to the different areas new sites are located. Duval had a small annual usage increase.

Despite the year-to-year decrease, safety belt usage has generally shown an upward trend over time. However, the recent pullback does indicate that occupant protection programs should still seek to increase safety belt usage among the disproportionately low use groups identified in this survey.

The low safety belt usage groups identified include pickup truck occupants (79.5%), male passengers (85.8%), occupants between the ages of 16-34 (86.9%), and black occupants (81.5%). Click here for the complete Safety Belt Use in Florida 2022 Final Report.

Occupant Protection Messages in Response to Low Usage Rates

Occupants Ages 16-34: Be Savvy… Buckle Up
Occupants in Pickups: Buckle Up in Your Truck

Survey Results in 2021 for Safety Belt Use in Northeast Florida and Statewide

According to the 2021 survey by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), statewide use of safety belts increased slightly, from 89.8% in 2019 to 90.1% in 2021. Of the 18 counties in FDOT District Two, three were surveyed in 2021. Safety belt use in Northeast Florida increased in two out of the three counties surveyed. We are proud of both Alachua (95%) and St. Johns (92.1%) for making the list of high-usage counties!

Survey Results and Trends

Florida’s 2021 survey results show safety belt use differed by road type. Motorists on higher speed roads are buckling up more, while usage on local, lower speed roads are least likely buckled up. The highest use of safety belts was on interstate highways, at 93.1%, followed by principal arterials at 91.9%. The lowest usage was on local roads, at 87.6%, and minor arterials at 87.3%.

Safety belt usage also differed by vehicle type. Occupants in pickup trucks have exhibited lower usage than those in other vehicle types every year of the survey. SUV occupants frequently used their safety belts at 93.7%, car occupants at 90%, van occupants at 89.9%, and pickup occupants at 81.6%.

Survey results consistently indicated that females were more likely to wear a safety belt every year. In 2021, 92.9% of females buckled up, versus men, at 87.6%.

Occupants ages 35–39 buckled up 91.8% of the time, and those ages 16–34 buckled up the least, at 88.7%. Prior surveys show a similar pattern in usage among age groups. 

Overall, safety belt usage has shown an upward trend over time. The 2021 results indicate progress in use among occupants traveling on higher-speed roadways and certain types of vehicles (SUVs). Results also indicate where improvement is still needed among the low belt use groups, including occupants of pickup trucks, black occupants, and occupants traveling on lower-speed roadways.

FDOT State Safety Office administered the annual survey. State survey sites and locations were based on recent traffic fatality counts in 15 Florida counties. Click here to view the Safety Belt Use in Florida 2021 Final Report. (Note: No survey was conducted in 2020.)


Alachua County Safety Belt Use Rates Highest in Florida in 2021

Congratulations, Alachua County, for having the highest usage rates in the state again! Survey results showed that Alachua equaled its highest-ever use rates, at 95.0%, and ranked #1 overall statewide. Alachua has been a long-time winner with buckling up. We are proud of Alachua for consistently remaining at the top of usage rates in Florida.  

St. Johns County Rates High in Safety Belt Use in 2021

Kudos to St. Johns County for maintaining an above-average usage rate. St. Johns came in at the fifth-highest county in the state with a 92.1% safety belt use rate (a tie with Lee County). Since 2018, St. Johns has rated over 90% safety belt use.

Duval County Safety Belt Use Needs Improvement

We have work to do in Duval County! Of the 2021 counties surveyed, Duval ranked the secondlowest safety belt use rate in the state, at 87.3% (followed only by Volusia at 84.%). Plans are for extensive efforts to provide resources, tools, and support to Duval County by educating others on the importance of buckling up. The FDOT District Two Community Traffic Safety Program (CTSP) has many occupant protection resources on its website and social media platforms.


Additional Occupant Protection Information and Resources

  • Wear your seat belt for every ride.
  • Buckling up is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash.
  • Secure children in a proper child safety seat.
  • Safety belt use isn’t just a good idea; IT’S THE LAW.

Your Traffic Safety Team provides a large variety of occupant protection materials via our website and social media channels.

Safety Belt Law History

In 1986, Florida implemented its first adult safety belt law. Safety belt use before the law was at 22% statewide. From 1999 to 2004, Florida’s use rate increased from 59% to just over 76% due to FDOT’s “Click It or Ticket” campaign and other efforts across the state. In 2009, Florida passed a primary enforcement safety belt bill, and safety belt use has increased since the law’s passage. Working together, we can continue to increase safety belt use and reduce fatalities and injuries on our roadways.

“Always Buckle Up … for Your Family. For Yourself. For LIFE.” 
No Regrets When You BUCKLE UP!

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: