Since 2007, Souhegan High School SRO John Smith and a team of high school seniors have participated in the statewide Teen Seat Belt Challenge which is sponsored by the National Organization for Youth Safety (NOYS) and held at the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training academy. This educational and competitive event is designed to show how easy it is to buckle up and, of course, how important it is to buckle up every time we travel in any vehicle. National statistics for 2012 show that 51% of teenage drivers ages 16 to 19 and 61% of teenage passengers that died in motor vehicle accidents were not wearing seatbelts. In New Hampshire, those figures are even higher with an overall figure of 77%.
Using a retired Amherst Police Department cruiser, SRO Smith coordinates the practical exercises which are comprised of timed relays where four contestants rotate clockwise between the four seated positions in the vehicle. Once all four students have had the chance to sit and buckle in each of the four seats, the timer is stopped and the final time is recorded. After running the relay, each contestant then must answer a question based on Learning Points about seatbelt safety. The winner of the school-wide competition moves on to the state-wide competition which is held at the New Hampshire police academy. In 2014, Souhegan High School students Kelli Warecki and her senior advisory group won the state-wide competition!