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CSU students encourage seat-belt safety

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

A small band of Clayton State University students, and staff members, conducted a road-safety checkpoint on campus on Wednesday, to remind commuters about the importance of wearing their seat belts.

In a surprise safety check, members of the campus chapters of BACCHUS (Boosting Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students) and ADEPT (Alcohol and other Drug Education and Prevention Team) stood at the corner of Clayton State Boulevard and Weltner Drive and reminded motorists to put on their seat belts.

Using humor and candy, peer health educators approached vehicles entering and leaving the campus, rewarding motorists with chocolate for wearing their seat belts and with Dum Dum Pops and car-crash statistics for not wearing their seat belts.

Clayton State University Assistant Director of Student Conduct Andre Clanton, who organized the surprise safety check, said the event was funded using portions of a 2009, $4,500 grant from the Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety. Clanton, who adjudicates violations of the school's student code of conduct, said the safety check serves as a preventative activity for students and faculty.

"I know, sometimes, when they are on campus, or pulling out of campus, they might not have their seat belt on, because they feel like they are safe and they are not on a city street," Clanton said. "We want them to wear a seat belt whenever they are in a moving vehicle. An accident can happen anywhere, even on campus ... We don't want them to take their lives for granted."

Approximately 75 to 100 motorists were approached by students and staff members during the afternoon lunch hour, including University President Tim Hynes.

Hynes was wearing his seat belt Wednesday, but could not be reached later for comment.

Chanielle Lee, a senior at Clayton State and a peer health educator, said that by rough estimates, about 75 percent of the motorists they approached between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m., wore their seat belts. While cracking jokes with motorists, Lee reminded people not wearing their seat belts that they could be pulled over for the offense -- even on campus.

"Most people don't know that public safety will pull them over for not having a seat belt on [on] campus," Lee said. "I think a lot of people were receptive to it. There were a couple of people who were rushing, and that is understandable, but for the most part, it went well. I got one comment from somebody that they appreciated what we were doing."

Clanton said Wednesday's safety check was done in conjunction with the state's "Click It or Ticket" campaign, taking place now until June 6, but added that the campus would organize future safety checks.

"Doing a random seat-belt check, and making it fun, allows them to receive important information, and they receive it better," Clanton said. "I think people will be more inclined to hear us tell them to put their seat belts on, rather than a police officer in the City of Morrow."