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March 6,  2002

Top Auto Safety Official Urges Parents to Buckle Up Children Correctly

(SafetyAlerts) - 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 regular basis.

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 customers.

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 ( 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.

Source: NHTSA

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During 2000 there were over
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