As part of a statewide partnership designed to reduce the leading cause of fatalities among children, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois State Police and 21st Century Insurance will bring their consumer safety program promoting compliance with Illinois law for child safety seats to both Springfield and Chicago this weekend, Dec. 3-4. Illinois law requires all children under eight years old to be properly secured in a child safety seat.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children from two to 14 years of age. NHTSA recently updated their information on improper child safety seat installation. New data show that 80 percent of child safety seats are improperly installed and are a potential source of injury for children, up from 73 percent in 2004.
Saturday in Springfield – noon – 2 p.m., Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Parking Lot, 112 N. Sixth St.;
Sunday in Chicago – noon – 2 p.m., Illinois DOT Garage, 3501 S. Normal St. (35th & Normal).
21st Century will donate 100 brand-new child safety seats to Gov. Blagojevich’s Keep Our Kids Warm and Safe initiative and will distribute the seats at Saturday’s safety fair.
At both child safety fairs, the State Police and IDOT will provide specially trained officers to inspect and, if necessary, replace and install a new child safety seat donated by 21st. Officers will educate parents and caregivers on how to use and install the seats. Children must accompany vehicles for proper child safety seat fitting and will be helped on a first come, first served basis.
“A properly installed child safety seat can make the difference between a safe, healthy child and one who’s injured or killed,” said Illinois State Police Director Larry Trent. “The Illinois State Police is pleased to have this opportunity to help ensure the safety of Illinois’ youngest citizens.”
Federal statistics show a critical need for education regarding booster seat use:
* According to recent data from NHTSA, at least 80 percent of children who should ride in booster seats currently do not.
* NHTSA recommends that children who weigh more than 40 pounds or who have outgrown their 5-point harness system should be placed in a booster seat.
* Using a booster seat allows the seat belt to be positioned across the child where it is most effective and lowers the risk of injury to children in crashes by 59 percent.
The Illinois program is modeled after the company’s efforts in California. Since 21st Century Insurance premiered its child safety seat initiative four years ago, more than 5,000 child safety seats have been inspected; 21st has donated more than 4,000 new child safety seats; and more than 2,100 broken, recalled or non-age-appropriate child safety seats have been collected and discarded. This weekend’s events are the eighth and ninth events in Illinois this year.
To help inform the public, Gov. Blagojevich, the Illinois State Police and 21st have created “Child Safety Seats: A Parent’s Guide” to explain proper seat installation and use. The guide, available in English or Spanish, can be obtained free of charge at safety fairs, by contacting the company’s corporate headquarters at 1-800-211-SAVE or by visiting www.21st.com.
The guide includes key tips such as the following:
* Anyone who transports a child in Illinois under the age of eight years in a motor vehicle shall be responsible for providing the protection of that child by properly securing him/her in an appropriate child restraint system.
* All persons age eight to 16 years must be secured in a properly adjusted seat belt regardless of seat position in the vehicle.
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