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U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Marks National Child Passenger Safety Week By Promoting Booster Seat Use

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Rodney E. Slater

U.S. Transportation Secretary Slater Marks National Child Passenger Safety Week By Promoting Booster Seat Use

NHTSA
February 14, 2000

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NHTSA 05-00
Monday, February 14, 2000
Contact: NHTSA, Cathy Hickey, (202) 366-9550

$7.5 million in Grants to 47 States

Advancing another step in the national strategy to increase seat belt and child safety seat use as the nation observes National Child Passenger Safety Week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today urged parents to use belt positioning booster seats for all children who have outgrown their child safety seats but are too small for adult seat belts. National Child Passenger Safety Week is Feb. 13-19.

Secretary Slater also marked the week by announcing $7.5 million in grants to 47 states, the U.S. Territories, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Indian Nations exclusively for promoting child passenger safety education and training activities.

"Booster seats, properly used, can help prevent injury to older children by making adult-sized seat belts fit effectively and thus improve safety, which is President Clinton's and Vice President Gore's highest transportation priority," Secretary Slater said.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) surveys show that less than seven percent of these children -- those who weigh 40 to 80 pounds and are approximately 4 to 8 years-old -- are using booster seats. Children using adult belts can suffer serious internal injuries in a crash, and risk slipping out of the belts altogether and being ejected from the vehicle.

To address this problem, Slater today launched "Don't Skip a Step," a campaign to educate parents not to skip any step as their children grow: beginning with rear-facing infant seats and progressing to forward-facing child safety seats, booster seats, and properly restrained in an adult belt in the back seat, up to age 13. As part of the campaign, the U.S. Department of Transportation's NHTSA distributed more than 50,000 campaign brochures to enlist the support of child safety advocates, health care providers, law enforcement personnel and others to help spread the booster seat safety message across the country.

The public education campaign is intended to provide parents vital information to ensure their children's safety.

According to NHTSA Acting Administrator Rosalyn G. Millman, even the most safety-conscious parents are often unaware of the need for booster seats or the danger their children face when improperly restrained in an adult safety belt. Because most state laws only require child safety seat use up to age three or four, many parents incorrectly assume older kids are safe in just a seat belt. In addition, while child safety seats and child safety seat displays have been readily found in retail stores for years, until recently booster seats were not marketed as widely.

"A child's growth requires that restraints change to fit properly and provide the maximum protection," said Millman. "Unfortunately, many parents are not using the third step to protect their children - booster seats."

Millman reminded parents of the proper restraint for children of all sizes. The appropriate restraints are as follows:

  • Children weighing less than 20 pounds (and up to 1 year old) should be in a rear-facing safety seat placed in the back seat.
  • Children at least 20 pounds and up to 40 pounds (1 to approximately 4 years old) should be in a forward-facing child safety seat placed in the back seat.
  • Children weighing more than 40 pounds who cannot properly fit in an adult safety belt system (usually less than 4'9" tall) should be in a booster seat in the back seat, properly.
  • Once a child can fit properly into the adult safety belt system he or she should be properly restrained in the back seat, up to age 13.

    "As a pediatrician, I can tell you that we are treating too many children because they are not buckled up properly," said Dr. Flaura Winston, principal investigator of the Partners for Child Passenger Safety Project of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania and State Farm Insurance Companies. "Too often, it is an ill-fitting adult seat belt that causes or contributes to these injuries."

    The project's findings show that optimal restraint use among children drops significantly after they outgrow their child safety seats. While approximately 70 percent of children in the study ages three and under are properly restrained for their weight and age, that number drops as low as 20 percent for children between ages 4 and 9. While most children of those ages are restrained, they are not restrained properly.

    In addition to the booster seat public awareness campaign launched today, the Secretary announced $7.5 million in grants to 47 states, the U.S. Territories, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Indian Nations exclusively for promoting child passenger safety education and training activities. The grants are authorized by Section 2003(b) of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) and range from $18,000 to $700,000 per recipient. The attached table lists the states receiving grants and their grant amounts.

    Fiscal Year 2000 Grants to Promote Child Passenger Safety

    STATE TOTAL
    Alabama $135,237
    Alaska $37,500
    Arizona $109,097
    Arkansas $97,748
    California $746,132
    Colorado $114,260
    Connecticut $83,547
    Delaware $37,500
    District of Columbia $37,500
    Florida $344,855
    Georgia $199,066
    Hawaii $37,500
    Idaho $45,735
    Illinois $321,705
    Indiana $168,549
    Iowa $115,678
    Kansas $118,918
    Kentucky $117,521
    Louisiana $123,414
    Maine $38,260
    Maryland $121,547
    Massachusetts $151,645
    Michigan $266,013
    Minnesota $160,236
    Mississippi $92,414
    Missouri $172,933
    Montana $51,004
    Nebraska $79,302
    Nevada $48,634
    New Hampshire $37,500
    New Mexico $62,343
    New York $456,826
    North Carolina $195,356
    North Dakota $55,319
    Ohio $298,333
    Oklahoma $123,821
    Oregon $103,952
    Pennsylvania $322,988
    Rhode Island $37,500
    South Carolina $108,930
    Tennessee $150,397
    Texas $521,422
    Utah $58,215
    Vermont $37,500
    Virginia $171,890
    Washington $147,143
    West Virginia $57,190
    Wisconsin $162,721
    Am. Samoa $18,750
    Guam $18,750
    N. Marianas $18,750
    Puerto Rico $85,954
    Virgin Islands $18,750
    B.I.A. $56,250
    TOTAL - 54 grants $7,500,000

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