It's one thing to see a "Click it or Ticket" ad on television or to have a well-meaning police officer talk at your school about the importance of seat belts for safety.

It's one thing to see a "Click it or Ticket" ad on television or to have a well-meaning police officer talk at your school about the importance of seat belts for safety.

Recent Delaware Area Career Center graduate Taylor Newland has a better way of getting her friends to buckle up.

"I tell them about my accident," she said, "and the story behind it."

In April 2011, Newland was doing two things in her car that she said were becoming bad habits: She was speeding, and she was driving without a seat belt.

"I didn't even notice I was speeding until I saw the flashing lights," Newland said, "and then I started crying because I already had one speeding ticket and I was pretty sure I'd lose my license if I got another."

But Delaware police officer Bill Eusey had another idea that day.

"He didn't give me a ticket for speeding, but he did give me a ticket for not wearing my seat belt," she said, "and I was thinking I was so lucky for getting off from the speeding ticket."

The experience led Newland to change both habits at once: She slowed down and routinely started buckling up, even for short trips. She didn't fear for her safety, she said -- she just didn't want to get another ticket.

On May 6, 2011, Newland found herself traveling north on U.S. Route 23 and attempting to turn left onto Coover Road near her home school, Buckeye Valley High School. It was 7:31 a.m. when a grey Cadillac clipped her black Explorer and sent the car rolling over and over until it came to rest upside down in a ditch.

"I was dangling upside down from my seat belt. I had to pull myself up by the seat belt in order to unhook it," she recalled. "I can tell my friends, 'Buckle up or you might get a ticket,' and they'd say, 'Ooh. A ticket.' But when I describe the accident or show them a picture of the car in the ditch, I think that has more of an impact on them. The seat belt really saved my life."

Jackie Bain is the Delaware County coordinator of the Safe Kids Coalition, which campaigns for seat-belt awareness every year at this time. The group also conducts seat-belt surveys in Delaware County.

"The next 100 days are the most dangerous of the year when it comes to accidents," she said.

Bain said local observations outside six Delaware County high schools conducted in October 2011 and April 2012 revealed a 78 percent seat-belt usage rate among 1,612 students observed. The rate for drivers, 82 percent, was significantly better than the 68 percent rate for passengers, she said.

Bain said her committee is especially concerned with seat-belt safety in the villages of Ashley and Sunbury, in the city of Delaware and in Scioto Township.

"Fewer people in Ashley and Sunbury buckle up, which is consistent with national figures showing a lower rate of buckling up in rural areas," she said.

The worst intersection for seat-belt usage was U.S. Route 42 and state Route 229, Bain said.

Delaware County Health Department spokesman Jesse Carter said accident statistics have a consistent common denominator: "The thing that jumps off the page to me are the fatality stats in Delaware. Six of our last 12 fatalities in the county most likely could have been prevented by a seat belt.

"Those people would still be walking among us."