BUCHANAN COUNTY, Va. (WJHL) — In light of Virginia’s unbuckled fatality rate reaching 52%, the Department of Motor Vehicles has launched a new safety campaign to push seat belt use.
According to a release from the Virginia DMV, department officials and local Southwest Virginia law enforcement officers in Lee, Wise and Buchanan counties have teamed up to start the Local Heroes Seat Belt Awareness Initiative.
The campaign was created in the hopes that it will lower the number of fatalities in Virginia caused by people not wearing seat belts.
Well-known officers in their communities are starring in short videos that urge their fellow members to buckle up.
Officers featured in the videos represent:
- Wise County Sheriff’s Office
- Wise County Police Department
- City of Norton Police Department
- Lee County Sheriff’s Office
- Town of Pennington Gap Police Department
- Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office
- Town of Grundy Police Department
- Virginia State Police’s Area 29 and 30 Offices
The Virginia DMV hopes that the local aspects of the project will grab the attention of drivers.
“Not wearing a seat belt is a statewide issue, but we’ve learned the solution is at the local level, and we need to impact individual communities,” DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb said. “Trusted law enforcement officers are personally engaging with the people they protect, encouraging them to buckle up, and reminding them their purpose is to save lives on the roadways.”
The release says Virginia’s overall seat belt use rate in 2018 was 84%, but Buchanan County’s was only 61%.
Lee County had a 70% seat belt use rate and Wise County came in at 67%.
In 2018, Virginia DMV says almost 300 of the 819 deaths on the road were unrestrained and 3,153 people not wearing seat belts were injured. Those numbers include both drivers and passengers.
Kentucky launched a program similar to the Local Heroes Initiative last year.