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Highland students Buckle Up for a Burger

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    The Medina County Safe Communities Coalition, local law enforcement and Highland students and administrators help with the Buckle Up for a Burger event Monday morning at Highland High School.

    LYDIA MAINZER / GAZETTE

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    Highland sophomore Nick McFadden is awarded Monday morning with a free McDonald's cheeseburger coupon for driving with a seat belt on.

    LYDIA MAINZER / GAZETTE

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    Highland seniors Rachel Beatty, left, and Sydney Csizmadia, right, greet students as they arrived at Highland High School Monday morning.

    LYDIA MAINZER / GAZETTE

When Nick McFadden arrived at Highland High School on Monday morning, he found there were unannounced driver inspections — and rewards for wearing a seat belt.

“I am really happy Highland put on this event,” the Sharon Township sophomore said. “There are way too many preventable accidents because people don’t take two seconds to click their seat belts. Free cheeseburgers are also nice.”

Students “caught” wearing seat belts received a coupon for a complimentary burger or beverage from a local McDonald’s. They also were presented a gift bag of information and “Click It or Ticket” giveaways.

The Buckle Up for a Burger event began at 7 a.m. at the Granger Township school. Random seat-belt checks were conducted as students arrived.

The Medina County Safe Communities Coalition, local law enforcement, volunteers and Highland administrators participated in the event, held as part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “Click It or Ticket” safety campaign.

Those not wearing seat belts were not given citations but were reminded of their importance.

“Seat belts are the most effective way to prevent serious injury or even death in an accident,” said Jessica Miles, project director for Safe Communities. “By simply wearing a seat belt correctly, a teen’s chance of surviving a crash increases by 50 percent.”

Miles said the surprise factor in morning events such as Monday’s are an effective way to reach student drivers.

Medina County sheriff’s Deputy Sharon Centner and Highland seniors Rachel Beatty and Sydney Csizmadia, both of Hinckley Township, assisted at the event. Holding a “Click It or Ticket” banner, Beatty and Csizmadia greeted the arriving student drivers.

Highland also recently held a mock crash event.

Csizmadia said Monday’s event was a good reminder that student drivers should be aware of safe practices always and not just on special occasions such as prom night.

“Accidents happen regularly and drivers need to be cautious,” she said.

When junior Vicky Grayson arrived, the Granger Township teen said she was shocked to see so many police cars in the parking lot.

“Wearing seat belts is important because it is another safety precaution to protect against fatal injury. Often teenagers forget that our cars can quickly become a two-ton weapon that can change our lives in an instant,” Grayson said.

Granger Township sophomore Varun Natarajan said he hadn’t seen anything like the Monday event before.

“It was a good check for students because they saw that police officers are truly enforcing the seat-belt law and wanting to make sure people are safe while driving,” he said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 55 percent of high school student drivers wear seat belts.

The Safe Communities Coalition is made up of law enforcement, health care agencies, fire departments, nonprofit agencies, schools, media and local businesses.

Messages for Lydia Mainzer may be left at (330) 721-4065.

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