Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for American teenagers. In fact, teens have the highest fatality rate in motor vehicle crashes than any other age group. In addition, they have the lowest safety belt use rates of all drivers. For the last three years All Children's Suncoast Safe Kids of Pasco has conducted a Battle of the Belts program in an effort to change these statistics and increase safety belt use amongst teenagers.
The goal of this campaign is for high school students to convince their peers to always wear seat belts. Student organizations are asked to create a unique campaign for their high school to encourage fellow students to wear their seat belts during every ride in a motor vehicle. Award categories include 1) highest seat belt use, 2) most improved seat belt use, 3) best school campaign, 4) best public service announcement (PSA), 5) best poster, and 6) best essay.
This year the winner of the best PSA was Gulf High School and student Tiffany Ronk. The winning PSA was reproduced professionally by local television station CW44. This week the new 30-second spot started a two-month run on the station. All Children's Hospital, Suncoast Safe Kids and CBS Community Partnerships Program are sponsoring the PSA.
Tiffany, now a graduate of Gulf High School, is featured in the PSA sharing a personally tragic story about her brother. Tiffany became an advocate for seat belt usage and an activist against drinking and driving after her brother Daniel Ronk died in a car crash. He was 19. Tiffany, a member of the Students Against Destructive Decisions, produced her winning video entry with the help of her School Resource Officer Corporal Fichtemaier and others at Gulf High.
In addition to producing the award winning public service announcement, Tiffany spoke against drunk driving and about seat belt use to the student assembly for juniors and seniors at her high school in February 2011.
When asked why she does this, Tiffany simply replied: "I just want to get the message out there, so no one else will have to go through what my family and I went through. Hopefully, people will listen."