Lander, WY, 14 May 2015 | 03:00 PM America/Chicago Battle of the Belts Wyoming, WY, stories, story, Good Neighbor, seat belts, auto safety In rural Wyoming there are two high schools that are rivals in just about everything. From sports to academia, the schools in Riverton and Lander battle it out. These days though, thanks to Injury Prevention Resources (IPR) of Wyoming, the schools have added something new to their list of rivalries: seat belt usage. “We noticed students, teachers, and even bus drivers were not regularly buckling up when entering and exiting the schools’ parking lots,” says IPR Executive Director Noel Cooper. “Seat belt usage numbers were actually decreasing.” Looking for a unique way to increase seat belt usage at both schools, IPR teamed up with administrators to introduce the annual ‘Battle of the Belts,’ competition. This program uses the rivalry between schools and challenges students to always wear their seatbelt. The winning school gets bragging rights and anda one-of-a-kind pro wrestling style championship belt for the year. First, IPR conducted unannounced seat belt usage surveys at each school. At Riverton High School, 57 percent of students and staff wore seat belts compared to 54 percent at Lander Valley High School. Following the initial surveys, IPR introduced the Battle of the Belts competition at school assemblies. The organization shared each school’s initial survey results and challenged the students to do better. A few weeks later, IPR conducted a follow up survey to see if seat belt usage had changed. At Riverton High School, seatbelt usage increased to 77.5 percent and at Lander Valley High usage increased 81.5 percent. Crowned the 2014 Battle of the Belts champions, Lander Valley High received their championship belt at a school pep rally. “I’m looking forward to defending the belt in the future,” said Lander Valley High School Vice Principal Brad Neuendorf. “This competition is a great way for our school resource officers, students and staff to be involved and productive in a good way for our community.” “There’s still room for improvement at both schools,” says IPR Safety Education Coordinator Tom Cunningham. “We’re trying to remind all drivers, that buckling your seatbelt is the single most important thing you can do to save your life while driving.” State Farm is committed to improving teen driver safety and provides funding to Injury Prevention Resources in support of their teen driver safety program.