Local Heroes

Local Heroes is part of Virginia’s strategy to save lives.

The multimedia initiative, featuring state and local law enforcement officers in Virginia, demonstrates to the motoring public that officers care about their communities. Officers would prefer to write a seat belt ticket than make a death notification to a family whose loved one was unbelted. Officers who are well known in their localities are featured in 60-second videos that urge individuals to buckle up when they get behind the wheel.

Areas with Low Belt Rates

Certain counties in Virginia have lower seat belt use rates than others, and higher rates of people dying in unbelted fatal crashes. Virginia’s annual seat belt use survey, along with other crash data, determines the counties in the Commonwealth that will benefit from the Local Heroes program. The officers involved in the 2019 initiative represent the Wise County Sheriff’s Office, Wise County Police Department, the City of Norton Police Department, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, the Town of Pennington Gap Police Department, Buchanan County Sheriff’s Office, the Town of Grundy Police Department, and Virginia State Police’s Area 29 and 30 Offices. The 2020 initiative involved officers representing the Amherst County Sheriff’s Office, Bedford County Sheriff’s Office, the Town of Bedford Police Department, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Danville Police Department, Wythe County Sheriff’s Office, and Virginia State Police’s Area 20, 24, 26, 41 and 43 Offices.

Post Survey Results

After the 2019 Local Heroes initiative saturated Lee, Wise and Buchanan counties, a post-survey revealed 91 percent of the 177 young men surveyed said they had heard of the campaign, and 61 percent said the campaign made them feel more positively toward the police. Most of those surveyed agreed that you should wear a seat belt every time you are in a vehicle, regardless of how far the trip is or who else is in the vehicle.

Reaction From The Audience

Some of the Local Heroes’ social media comments include this one from Leigh Ann Lockhart in Buchanan County, “So proud of this video and the professionalism of the officers from MY hometown!” Annette Brandt writes, “There is no reason to not buckle that belt.” Marlena Craig from Lee County writes this powerful warning, “I was ejected from a rollover crash. It broke my back among other injuries that day two years ago in Dryden VA in Lee County. I didn’t buckle up because I was ‘just running up the road real quick.’ It almost cost me my life. WEAR YOUR SEAT BELT! I regret my decision every single day.”

Seat Belts Save Lives

More than 52 percent of the people who died on Virginia’s roads in 2019 weren’t wearing a seat belt. Seat belts are the single most effective traffic safety device for preventing injuries and saving lives during a crash. Buckling up prevents drivers and passengers from being ejected, and from flying around the vehicle and injuring others. Everyone needs to buckle up, including back seat passengers; a CDC study reveals the odds of driver death more than doubled in fatal frontal crashes when there were unrestrained rear-seat passengers. Air bags are not enough to protect drivers and passengers. The force of an air bag can seriously injure or even kill you if you’re not buckled up. Always buckle up and make sure everyone is wearing their seat belts before putting your vehicle in gear.

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