Launching the second year of their co-sponsored safety program designed to reduce the leading cause of fatalities among children, Gov. Janet Napolitano, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the Arizona Department of Public Safety and 21st Century Insurance will host a child safety seat inspection and installation fair at the Babies R Us parking lot near Scottsdale Rd. & 101 loop from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 26.
Arizona law requires that a child passenger restraint (child safety seat or booster seat) be used on all children under five years of age. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children from two to 14 years of age. NHTSA 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.
“Child safety seats save lives,” said Gov. Napolitano. “It is a state priority to get the message out to Arizona’s families to make sure they know how to use child safety seats properly in order to protect their children from unnecessary injury or worse.”
Arizona DPS will provide specially trained officers to inspect and, if necessary, replace and install a new safety seat donated by 21st. They will show parents and caregivers how to use and install the seats. Children must accompany their parent or guardian 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 DPS Director Roger Vanderpool. “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 for his role on the hit TV show “CHiPs,” will join fair participants to spread the word on child seat safety. “Wearing your seatbelt and making sure you and 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 over 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, compared with the use of vehicle safety belts.
* The Arizona program is modeled after the company’s efforts in California. Since 21st premiered its safety initiative in California five years ago, more than 7,000 child safety seats have been inspected throughout six states; 21st has donated more than 5,500 new child safety seats; and more than 2,500 broken, recalled or non-age-appropriate seats have been destroyed.
To help inform the public, Gov. Napolitano, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the Arizona DPS and 21st Century 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 www.21st.com/safety.
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