North Thurston High School's RAMS in Action safety club teamed up with the Lacey Police Department to issue "tickets" to teen drivers and their passengers who wore seat belts on their way to school Monday morning.
And all of those tickets went into a raffle for prizes, which included a one-year membership to AAA auto club and a gift card worth $124, the price for not wearing a seat belt in Washington.
“You wanted this ticket,” said Brittany Sill, manager of the Target Zero of Thurston County, a program funded by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
More than 450 students, or about 96 percent of the students in vehicles entering the school parking lot, were “caught” wearing seat belts during in the emphasis, Sill said.
“In Washington state, our total is 97 percent (seat belt) usage,” she said. “We are one of the highest in the nation.”
Seven Lacey police officers helped with the safety patrol, Sill said. Similar events held statewide have shown to increase seat belt usage by 10 percent to 15 percent.
“If we got a couple of more kids to think about buckling up today, then it’s a success,” she added.
Because the event was kept a secret, many students and parents didn’t know what to think about all of the police cars, traffic cones, news crews and activity on campus, according to school detention supervisor Joe Pallitto, who also advises the safety club.
“We’ve never done anything like this at our school before,” he said. “You name it, that’s what was being thought. (People thought) there was a lockdown, there was a shooting, there was an accident. We heard pretty much everything.”
The club plans to conduct another round of seat belt checks in the future to see if the awareness campaign helped change habits of students who don’t usually buckle their seat belts.
In other words: “Did it click with them?” Sill said.
Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 firstname.lastname@example.org