March 6, 2002
Top Auto Safety Official Urges
Parents to Buckle Up Children Correctly
Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D., head of the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (NHTSA) today announced a series of high visibility Child
Passenger Safety Week events to increase correct use of child safety seats
and booster seats. The annual observance, Feb. 10-16, highlights the
importance of correctly buckling up every child on every trip - every time.
"Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children age 4 to
14 years old, and, in 2000 more than half of all children under 15 years of
age killed in car crashes were completely unrestrained," said Dr. Runge.
"This year public and private sector partners have united with the
Department on a wide-ranging variety of educational and promotional efforts
to reduce those numbers. All partners on all fronts are urging parents and
caregivers to use the proper restraint for the age and size of the child."
Despite recent impressive gains in child restraint use and a decrease in the
number of child fatalities since 1996, the U.S. Department of
Transportation's NHTSA estimates that fewer than 10 percent of booster
seat-aged children - generally 4-8 years old - use booster seats on a
According to Dr. Runge, that's why there is special emphasis this year on
getting children who have outgrown their child safety seats to use booster
seats until they are at least 8 years old, unless they are at least 4 feet 9
inches tall. He said that premature use of adult seat belts by children can
result in serious abdominal and other injuries. A booster seat raises the
child up so the adult seat belt fits properly."
This year's major Child Passenger Safety Week events include:
On Feb. 5, Avis Rent A Car System, Inc., will issue a video news release.
The VNR will announce that Avis has adopted the new universal LATCH (Lower
Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) system as its standard for child safety
seat installation. Avis will offer LATCH-compatible vehicles to all
On Feb. 7, NHTSA will join with the National Safe Kids Campaign as it
releases findings of a new nationwide child safety seat observational
survey. The study looks at child restraint use, nonuse and misuse and makes
recommendations for future improvements.
On Feb.12, NHTSA, along with the National Latino Children's Institute (NLCI),
Nationwide Insurance, and ASPIRA New York, will host a national news
conference at 10 a.m. at Beacon School, PS86X, 2756 Reservoir Avenue, Bronx,
NY. The conference will highlight the Corazón de mi Vida ("Center of My
Life") campaign for the Latino community, which stresses the importance of
placing children in the back seat of a vehicle and in the appropriate child
safety seat every time. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death
for Hispanics ages 1 to 44.
On Feb. 12, also at the Bronx event, NHTSA will unveil its new multicultural
outreach website. The web site (www.nhtsa.dot.gov.multicultural) has an
extensive Spanish section and is also designed to make materials tailored to
minority communities readily available to the public.
On Feb. 13, DaimlerChrysler, the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will announce a
new national effort that will expand the scope and improve the accessibility
of child passenger safety information.