Safety belt program grand prizes awarded

Craig Police Chief Walt Vanatta presided over a raffle at Moffat County High School on Tuesday, honoring the students who earned safety belt awards this school year.

Local businesses donate items to the Craig Police Department each year. Those donations are used as incentives to encourage students to wear their seatbelts. If a student is stopped by a police officer and is wearing his or her seatbelt, they are given a reward, which can range from a certificate for a haircut or gas to a $50 savings bond.

Any teen who had been awarded a safety belt award during the school year was automatically entered into the raffle for one of the four grand prizes.

Vanatta said he is very proud of the program, and thinks it helps to educate and encourage teens to be safe when driving.

"Do I think this program is 100 percent of the reason kids wear their seatbelts? No, but I do think it definitely makes a positive impact towards more kids being more safe in their cars," Vanatta said.

This year, more than $9,000 worth of certificates from 51 area businesses were distributed to students, Vanatta said, and 293 teen drivers have been recognized by the program.

The impact is significant, according to Vanatta.

Each school year, the police department surveys the students leaving the school parking lot in September and May.

This year's surveys saw 77 percent of teens driving with their seatbelt on, a 10 percent increase. The statewide average for all drivers is 65 percent, while the average in the Western Slope is only 58 percent, Vanatta said.

"Our 77 percent looks even better when viewed against the other averages."

A car stereo from Radio Shack, a portrait setting from Pro Image Photography, $100 cash from the Craig Chapter of the VFW and a set of rims from J.W. Brewer Tire were the grand prizes up for grabs.

Michael Sollenberger won the car radio, Jared Aragon won the $100, Sarah Batchelor got the rims, and Seth Miller came away with the portrait setting.

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