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SafetyAlerts
February 7,  2002

SAFE KIDS Study Reveals One-Third of Children Are Riding in the Wrong Restraints for Their Age and Size

New Survey Also Finds 14% of Children Ride Completely Unrestrained in Motor Vehicles

 (SafetyAlerts) - Almost half of parents are making major mistakes when it comes to protecting their children in motor vehicles. In the largest interactive, observational survey of child restraint use in America, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign found that 33% of children ages 14 and under were riding in the wrong restraint type for their age and size. In addition, 14% of the children observed were riding completely unbuckled. Older children were more likely to be both unrestrained and in the wrong restraint.

The SAFE KIDS report, Child Passengers at Risk in America: A National Study of Restraint Use, is based on observations of 9,332 children traveling in 6,297 vehicles. Data were collected at 174 sites in 48 states and the District of Columbia between November 2001 and January 2002.

Key findings:

Inappropriately Restrained Children:

-- 33% (3,042) of children were in the wrong restraint for their size and age.

63% (1,626) of kids who should have been in belt-positioning booster seats (typically ages 4 to 8) were inappropriately restrained

Unrestrained Children:

-- 14% (1,295) of children were riding completely unrestrained.

24% (284) of kids ages 10-14, and 20% of kids ages 5-9 were riding completely unrestrained


SAFE KIDS also found that driver safety belt use oftentimes dictates child restraint use. Nearly 40% (923) of children riding with unbelted drivers were completely unrestrained, compared to only 5% (355) of children riding with drivers in safety belts.

The SAFE KIDS findings are consistent with those of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's 2000 National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS) estimates of unrestrained children. However, the SAFE KIDS report sheds new light on a larger group of children who are riding improperly restrained.

The serious consequences of children riding in the wrong restraint or without protection at all are well documented. Recent data from the Crash Injury Research & Engineering Network (CIREN) project indicate that inappropriately restrained children are nearly three and a half times more likely to suffer a severe injury in a crash than their appropriately restrained peers. More than half (56%) of the children killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2000 were completely unrestrained.

"This research tells us that parents still aren't getting it -- they just don't realize that they're gambling with their child's life when leaving them unbuckled or in the wrong seat," said Heather Paul, Ph.D., executive director of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. "We need more powerful ways to persuade them -- more education, better laws and stronger enforcement of those car seat laws that are on the books."

Martin Eichelberger, M.D., director of Emergency Trauma Services at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and president of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign, cares for children who've suffered serious injuries as a result of riding in the wrong type of restraint or completely unrestrained. "The tragedy of witnessing young lives lost or forever altered by injury is not easily forgotten; nor is the heartache that comes from talking with their parents who wish they had only known how to protect their children."

SAFE KIDS believes there are three key ways to change parents' knowledge and behavior: enacting stronger child occupant protection laws; enforcing those laws with stiff penalties for offenders; and educating adults about the dangers of not properly restraining children.

The SAFE KIDS Coalition of Southeastern Pennsylvania will conduct a child safety seat checkup this weekend at Lankford Buick-Pontiac-GMC in Conshohocken. The check will run on Saturday, February 9, 2002 from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. An appointment is necessary so please call Lynne Ciocca at 610-278-5117, extension 182 to schedule a time. This program is supported by the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources and the General Motors Corporation through its SAFE KIDS BUCKLE UP(R) program.

The entire report, Child Passengers at Risk in America: A National Study of Restraint Use, can be found on the SAFE KIDS Web site at http://www.safekids.org/. For more information on SAFE KIDS BUCKLE UP, visit the SAFE KIDS Web site or call the toll-free hotline at (800) 441-1888 to find a child safety seat checkup near you.

The National SAFE KIDS Campaign is the first and only national nonprofit organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury -- the number one killer of children ages 14 and under. Three hundred state and local SAFE KIDS coalitions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico comprise the Campaign. Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, M.D., Sc.D., is chairman of the Campaign
.

Source: PRNewswire.

 
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