UK, UofL fans can show team spirit, increase highway safety during ‘Finish Strong’ seatbelt challenge

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UK and UL football fans can show their team spirit and help reduce highway deaths this holiday season at two special events in Lexington and Louisville on Wednesday, Nov. 22.

Representatives from the Kentucky State Police (KSP), the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) and Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) Insurance Company will be giving away free red or blue t-shirts to the first 1,000 fans who arrive with their seat belts fastened at Kroger Field in Lexington between 10:00 and 11:30 a.m. and Papa John’s Stadium in Louisville between 2:00 and 3:30 p.m. The shirts will feature a special message: #FinishStrong (Kentucky\Louisville) — Never Miss A Game — Buckle Up! under a stylized graphic of football laces.

University of Kentucky shirt design

The highest fan turnout wins friendly bragging rights before the annual gridiron match-up on November 25.

KSP Commissioner Rick Sanders says the events are designed to use the intra-state football rivalry to focus attention on the “Finish Strong” highway safety program, which encourages motorists to finish the last quarter of the year strong by buckling up and arriving alive.

“There is always a level of friendly competition among Kentuckians when the Cards play the Cats,” says Sanders. “Our hope is that we use that rivalry to encourage fans to wear their seat belts to the big game and bring attention to the issue of seat belt usage.”

KOHS Executive Director Dr. Noelle Hunter says the office is continually exploring fun, creative strategies to promote highway safety messages. “When KSP approached us with this idea, we knew it was an excellent fit to our ongoing efforts to think outside the box,” said Hunter. “In fact, we’ve integrated the ‘Finish Strong’ message into our dynamic message signs this weekend, so watch for them on our interstates and other major roadways.”

University of Louisville shirt design

As of Nov. 17, there have been 669 total highway fatalities in Kentucky this year with 264 of those resulting from not wearing a seat belt.

Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance Company joined the two agencies in the effort to help spread the safe driving message by providing the t-shirts given away at the events.

“This is a great partnership that aligns very well with our ‘KFB Loves KY’ message and our distracted driving awareness campaign,” adds KFB Director of Communications Dan Smaldone. “In fact, aside from putting down your phone while driving, one of the next best defenses against a distracted driver is to wear a seat belt.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belts, when worn correctly, reduce the risk of fatal injuries to front seat passenger by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent.

“A seat belt is the easiest, most efficient way to save lives on our roadways, yet we continually see far too many drivers and passengers not buckling up,” says Hunter.

To add impact to the ‘Finish Strong’ campaign, Sanders says his agency will be placing additional focus on seat belt enforcement operations during the holiday season.

“The goal of these enforcement efforts is not to see how many tickets we can write,” says Sanders. “The purpose is to save lives and that is where high visibility enforcement is key in changing driver behavior.”

“Whether you are a Louisville fan like me, or a UK fan like Dr. Hunter, we can all agree on one thing – we never want to miss a game,” adds Sanders. “So buckle up and ‘Finish Strong’ Kentucky!”

Finish Strong Seat Belt Challenge

From Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet

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