Seat Belt Champion Award Presented to Florida Legislators

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Three legislators have been recognized for their contribution to roadway safety in Florida. The presentation of Meharry-State Farm’s Seat Belt Champion Award was applauded by officials from state and national transportation safety organizations.

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These lawmakers overcame tall barriers in order to pass the primary enforcement law, and now thousands of deaths and injuries will be prevented.

The Meharry-State Farm Alliance presented Seat Belt Champion Awards today to Florida legislators who were instrumental in passage of the state’s primary seat belt law. They are Senator Nan H. Rich of District 34, Representative Richard “Rich” Glorioso of District 62, and Representative Joseph A. “Joe” Gibbons of District 105.

The awards were presented March 23 at the Governor’s Club at 202½ South Adams St. in Tallahassee, Fla. Officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Florida Department of Transportation attended, as did leaders of other state and national transportation safety groups. Meharry Medical College and State Farm® made the presentations.

“These lawmakers overcame tall barriers in order to pass the primary enforcement law, and now thousands of deaths and injuries will be prevented,” said Osei Mevs, Associate Vice President for External Affairs, Meharry Medical College. "Their endeavors were exemplary and are a textbook example for lawmakers in other states to follow who are laboring to enact primary seat belt legislation.”

Chris Neal, Public Affairs Manager for State Farm in Florida, agreed.

“State Farm has a longstanding commitment to making our roads safer. By supporting effective safety legislation, State Farm plays an important role in raising public awareness of these issues,” he said.

Florida previously had a secondary law requiring drivers to buckle their seat belts but officers were unable to ticket offenders unless they had been stopped for another driving violation. As of June 30, 2009, motorists can be stopped and ticketed solely for not wearing their seat belts.

The Meharry-State Farm Alliance was formed in 2002 by Meharry Medical College and State Farm Insurance to reduce disparities among minorities in seat belt use and traffic deaths and injuries. Primary seat belt legislation has been shown to increase seat belt use among all drivers by 10-15 percent, and use of seat belts has been shown to reduce the risk of death and injury by 50 percent.

Alliance scientists have estimated Florida’s new law will save the state 940 lives, prevent almost 150,000 injuries, and reduce costs by $5.5 billion in the first five years alone.

The Seat Belt Champion Award is presented to legislators who sponsor seat belt legislation, often in the face of prolonged opposition. Previous recipients include President Barack Obama for his role in the passage of Illinois’s law while a state senator.

About Meharry Medical College
Meharry Medical College is the nation’s largest private, independent, historically black academic health center dedicated solely to educating minority and other health professionals. True to its heritage, it is a United Methodist Church affiliated institution. The College is particularly well known for its uniquely nurturing, highly effective educational programs; emerging preeminence in health disparities research; culturally sensitive, evidence-based health services; and significant contribution to the diversity of the nation’s health professions workforce. Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s ranking of institutions annually lists Meharry as a leading national educator of African Americans with M.D. and D.D.S. degrees, and Ph.D. degrees in the biomedical sciences.

About State Farm
State Farm® insures more cars and homes than any other insurer in the U.S., is the leading insurer of watercraft and is also a leading insurer in Canada. State Farm's 17,000 agents and 67,000 employees serve over 77 million auto, fire, life and health policies in the United States and Canada, and more than 1.9 million bank accounts. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 32 on the Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit statefarm.com® or in Canada statefarm.ca®.

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Linda Sparks
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