As part of a statewide partnership designed to reduce the leading cause of fatalities among children, the Governor’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety and 21st Century Insurance will bring their consumer safety program, which promotes compliance with Texas law for child safety seats, to Sharpstown Center in Houston from 10 a.m. to 12 noon this Saturday, Nov. 19.
Texas law requires that a child passenger restraint (child safety seat or booster seat) be used on all children younger than five years of age and less than 36 inches tall.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children two years of age. NHTSA recently updated their information on improper child safety seat installation. New data shows 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.
To help reduce preventable injuries and deaths, the Governor’s Office, Texas DPS and 21st Century Insurance will sponsor a child safety seat fair at Sharpstown Center at 7500 Bellaire Blvd., Houston. DPS 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 how to use and install the seats. Children must accompany vehicles for proper fitting and will be helped on a first come, first served basis.
“Recent national statistics show that more than 80 percent of children in vehicles are unrestrained or buckled up incorrectly,” said Texas Department of Public Safety Trooper Lonny Haschel, Texas Highway Patrol. “A properly installed child safety seat can make the difference between a safe, healthy child and one who’s injured or killed.”
Actor Erik Estrada, best known as “Ponch” on the hit TV show “CHiPs,” will join fair participants to spread the word on child seat safety. “Wearing your seatbelt and making sure your children are properly buckled up is the best insurance against being killed or seriously injured in many vehicle crashes,” Estrada said. “I urge all parents to have their child’s safety seat inspected. Just a few minutes could save a life.”
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 Texas program is modeled after the company’s efforts in California and Illinois. 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 Saturday’s Houston safety fair is the fifth such event for 2005 and will be followed by a sixth event for military families of Fort Hood in December. Safety fairs occurred in Corpus Christi, San Antonio, Austin and Dallas earlier this year.
To help inform the public, the Office of Gov. Rick Perry, DPS and 21st will continue to sponsor child safety seat inspection and installation fairs across the state and 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 at the safety fairs as well as directly from 21st by contacting the company’s corporate headquarters at 1-800-211-SAVE or visiting its Web site, http://www.21st.com.
The guide includes tips such as the following:
* All children age 12 and younger should ride properly restrained in the back seat.
* Never place a rear-facing child safety seat in the front seat where a front-mounted passenger air bag is present.
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