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U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta Urges Seat Belt, Child Seat Use

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government Topics:  Norman Y. Mineta

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta Urges Seat Belt, Child Seat Use

May 21, 2001

NHTSA 27-01
Monday, May 21, 2001
Contact: Belinda C. Rawls
(202) 366-9550

Anticipating increased travel during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend and in support of "Buckle Up, America! Week," U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta today urged parents and caregivers to buckle up and especially to ensure that children are correctly restrained in appropriate child restraints.

More than 10,000 police agencies will participate in Operation ABC Mobilization: America Buckles up Children during "Buckle Up America! Week" May 21-28, a nationwide campaign to enforce seat belt and child restraint laws.

"I applaud the continuing efforts of law enforcement officers all across the country who are working to help protect children and the adults who transport them," Secretary Mineta said. "Safety, of course, is our top priority, and this safety campaign supports the Bush administration's commitment to preventing highway injuries and fatalities."

The Operation ABC Mobilization is sponsored by the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign, a coalition of dozens of other safety-minded organizations. The goal of the campaign is to increase the proper use of seat belts and child safety seats. Since the mobilizations began in 1996, child fatalities from traffic crashes have declined by 17 percent, and restraint use for infants has risen to 97 percent.

This year, "Buckle Up America! Week" will focus on seat belt use in community settings - getting people to buckle up on short, routine trips, with a special emphasis on neighborhoods, city streets and country roads. The new "Every Trip. Every Time" message is intended to reinforce the understanding that vehicle occupants always need to use seat belts.

Secretary Mineta urged people who use seat belts only sometimes to change their thinking. Short, local trips on all types of roadways are as dangerous as longer, high-speed trips, so seat belts should be used "always, on every trip."

Secretary Mineta reminded parents and caregivers of the four vital steps in child passenger safety. They are:

Step 1: Use rear-facing child seats for children from birth to at least 20 pounds and at least one year of age.

Step 2: Use forward facing child seats for children over 20 pounds and at least one year old to about 40 pounds and about age four.

Step 3: Use belt-positioning booster seats for children over 40 pounds to about 80 pounds up to 4 feet 9 inches tall.

Step 4: Use seat belts for older children large enough for the belt to fit correctly, which is at least 4 feet 9 inches tall and about 80 pounds.

Also today, at the California Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles, a new nationwide campaign to promote seat belt use among Hispanics was launched. This public information and education campaign is intended to help persuade Hispanics, whose rate of seat belt use is lower than the general U.S. population, to buckle up.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Hispanics through the age of 24, and the second leading cause of death for Hispanics between the ages of 25-44.


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