RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles is launching a new campaign to increase seat belt use.
According to a release, the unbuckled fatality rate in Virginia is 52 percent.
So DMV officials and law enforcement officers teamed up and created the Local Heroes Seat Belt Awareness Initiative.
The goal of this project is to reduce the number of fatalities on the roads that involve people who are not buckled up.
"Not wearing a seat belt is a statewide issue, but we've learned the solution is at the local level, and we need to impact individual communities," said DMV Commissioner Richard Holcomb. "Trusted law enforcement officers are personally engaging with the people they protect, encouraging them to buckle up and reminding them their purpose is to save lives on the roadways."
As part of that effort, officers who are well known in their communities have been included in 60-second videos urging people to buckle up when in their cars.
Officers who are currently featured in such video are from the Wise County Sheriff's Office, the Wise County Police Department, the City of Norton Police Department, the Lee County Sheriff's Office, the Town of Pennington Gap Police Department, the Buchanan County Sheriff's Office, the Town of Grundy Police Department, and the Virginia State Police's Area 29 and 30 offices. Some of those videos have been posted on the DMV's YouTube page, available at the link in the Related Links box.
The release says the overall seat belt use rate in Virginia last year was 84 percent, but in some counties, it was much lower. For example, the usage rate in Buchanan County was just 61 percent.
It adds that almost 300 of the 819 deaths on the roads last year were unrestrained. There were also 3,153 people who were not wearing seat belts who were hurt.
The Kentucky Highway Safety office launched a similar Local Heroes program last year, which has so far received a high percentage of favorable impressions.
The campaign also appears to have been effective in that state as the number of unrestrained crashes decreased during the program's advertising campaign.