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Press Release for Monday, March 26, 2007

UNF Student Joins Cyclists in 12-Day, 1,200-Mile Journey for Seat Belt Safety Awareness

Contact: Joanna Norris, Assistant Director
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

April is Alcohol Awareness Month and the 180 S.A.F.E. (Stay Alive From Education) Ride cycling team is taking its second annual 12-day, 1,200-mile trek across the state, stopping on college campuses to raise awareness for seat belt use and the importance of using designated drivers to fight drunk driving.

On the third day of their ride, the eight-person team of first responders, including Valeria Nolla, 21, a University of North Florida pre-med student from Peru, will start the day’s journey at UNF on Wednesday, March 28, at 10 a.m. on The Green (in front of the Fine Arts Center) where they will be available for media interviews before departing at 11 a.m.

The cycling team will meet students on campus and talk about their experiences as they raise money to educate young people regarding the importance of making the right decisions—wearing seatbelts, underage drinking, and if of legal age, using a designated driver or alternative transportation, if they’ve had too much to drink.

The 180 S.A.F.E. Ride spans 1,200 miles to draw attention to the 1,200 preventable alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities reported each year by the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP). FHP statistics also indicate that more than 66 percent of those who died in safety-belt equipped vehicles in Florida were not buckled up. In Florida, seat belt use was 74 percent in 2005, the latest year for which data is available.

The cyclists are helping raise awareness and support for Florida S.A.F.E., Inc., a nonprofit education organization dedicated to reducing teen injuries and fatalities. S.A.F.E., Inc. is comprised of 17 certified firefighter/paramedics based in Tallahassee, Orlando, Tampa and Miami. To date, S.A.F.E. members have helped more than 100,000 youth across Florida and the nation make responsible decisions about using their seat belts, not drinking if they are underage, drunk driving and illegal drug use through its interactive, reality-based Street Smart program.

The S.A.F.E. team visits high school and military bases across the country to help young people be “street smart” when it comes to decisions on drunk driving, underage drinking or illegal drug use.

The Ride is sponsored by Anheuser-Busch’s 180 Energy Drink. Supporting partners include Florida State University, AAA Auto Club South, Florida Highway Patrol, Publix, the Florida Student Association, Gainesville Responsible Hospitality Partnership, Sea World and Busch Gardens.