THE seatbelt safety message is now being rolled out to year nine students as part of the Lancashire Telegraph’s Love Your Kids? Belt Them In campaign.

Previously Steve Johnson, who runs pre driver education courses for Blackburn with Darwen Casualty Reduction Team, said they would deliver the course to year 10 and 11 pupils only. But yesterday Mr Johnson was asked to attend St Wilfrid’s CE High School and Techology College, Blackburn, to raise aware-ness about the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt to younger students.

He said the response from the 220-plus students was encouraging and would now look to send out seatbelt safety messages in year nine, as well as years 10 and 11.

Love Your Kids? Belt Them In was launched in partnership with the Lancashire Partnership for Road Safety and Blackburn with Darwen Casualty Reduction Team after a shock survey revealed more than half of 10- year-olds do not wear seatbelts.

The Lancashire Teleg-raph campaign aims to educate youngsters about the importance of belting up, while encouraging pass-engers and drivers to wear seatbelts however long, or short, a journey. Mr Johnson, who was seconded to the Casualty Reduction Team from Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We as a road safety team are trying to get the seatbelt message across.

“We are encouraging these young people to be resp-onsible passengers as they are our future drivers.

“We talked to young girls about coping strategies and if they go out with older boys who drive, I told them how to get them to slow down.

“The sessions with the 13 to 14-year-olds were very effective.

“We need to embed this message in them as early as possible as it might just save their life.

“We need to take an incremental approach and teach seatbelt and road safety messages step by step.

“It needs to be consistent. Children in primary school are taught the importance of seatbelts during their pedestrian safety training, but this is not picked up until they reach year 10 and 11.”