Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood recently congratulated two elementary school students – a second grader from Maryland and a third grader from Missouri – as this year’s winners of the “Be Ready. Be Buckled.” Safety Belt Student Art Contest sponsored by the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership. 

Second-grader Caleb Zhao from Gaithersburg, MD, and third-grader Reilly Taylor from Independence, MO, won top honors for their illustrations that demonstrate the need for commercial truck and bus drivers to buckle up every time they get behind the wheel.

The two winners were joined by 10 other talented students who were also recognized for their participation in the contest.  Together, these 12 entries will be included in the 2014 “Be Ready. Be Buckled.” Art Contest calendar, which will become available in the fall.

The “Be Ready. Be Buckled.” student art contest is organized by the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership, which includes FMCSA, NHTSA and 30 other government agencies and private organizations.

Open to students in kindergarten through sixth grade with relatives in the commercial truck and bus industries, the contest educates children about highway safety and urges commercial drivers to buckle up on every trip.

 “Buckling up is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to be safe on our highways,” said LaHood. “The student art contest helps deliver that message to both our children who design the posters, and the truck and bus drivers who will see them throughout the year.”

Joining Secretary LaHood at an awards ceremony held at DOT headquarters were National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Deputy Administrator Bill Bronrott. The two contest winners received framed replicas of their artwork plus a monetary award courtesy of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership.

To learn more about the "Be Ready, Be Buckled" contest, go to www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safetybelt.