During National Teen Driver Safety Week, five teens talk about the importance of seat belts


National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 20-26 and five Grand Forks teens are teaming up with the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) to share their survival story with the hopes that all North Dakotans – including other young drivers and passengers – take personal responsibility when traveling by buckling up to reach the goal of Vision Zero; zero fatalities and serious injuries on North Dakota roads.  

Jacob Jenkins, Matthew Rongitsch, Grant Lelm and Elijah and Jonah DaFoe were all wearing their seat belts earlier this summer when the vehicle they were traveling in rolled and landed upside down in waist-deep water. All of the boys were unharmed and are quick to point out that no matter where, or how far you travel, you should always wear your seat belt. The teens were awarded the Saved by the Belt award from the Grand Forks County Sheriff’s office because they buckled up.

The teens are using this crash as an opportunity to share the importance of seat belt use with other young drivers as a part of National Teen Driver Safety Week on Facebook.  

“This week is a perfect time for parents to begin and continue to have the conversation with their young driver about the importance of taking personal responsibility when behind the wheel. This means reinforcing the message of always wearing a seat belt and driving free from distraction and impairment,” said Safety Division Director Karin Mongeon.  

In 2018 in North Dakota, drivers age 14-19 accounted for 5% of all licensed drivers but are behind the wheel in nearly 20% of all crashes. Young drivers in North Dakota were involved in 9% of fatal crashes for the same period.