CONTACT: DAN MCMILLAN
CONTACT: C. LINDON LARSON
283 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-9569; fax (319) 335-8034
February 9-15 is National Child Passenger Safety Week
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) has designated February 9-15 as National Child Passenger Safety
Week, an annual campaign to remind parents and others transporting children
of the need to properly secure youngsters riding in motor vehicles.
The NHTSA estimates that child safety seats, when correctly used, can
reduce fatalities among children by 71 percent -- one of the most effective
safety innovations ever developed. However, as many as 40 percent of children
involved in fatal crashes every year are unrestrained.
In Iowa, the Governor's Traffic Safety Bureau reported that 17 children
under age 6 were killed in motor vehicle crashes in the state in 1996,
the highest figure recorded since statistics were first compiled in 1982.
In addition to the fatalities, 60-80 young children are seriously injured
in Iowa vehicle crashes each year, according to the GTSB.
Iowa has had a child passenger safety restraint law in effect since
1985, requiring that all vehicle occupants under age 6 be restrained regardless
of seating position. In Iowa, enforcement of this law will be emphasized
during National Child Passenger Safety Week.
The Iowa Child Passenger Restraint Survey, conducted in 1996 by the
University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center, estimated that nearly
70 percent of children under the age of 6 were properly secured in a safety
seat. While higher than the national average, state safety experts see
a continuing need for public information efforts focused on the proper
use of child restraint systems.
Recent public attention to the issue of automobile air bags may serve
to heighten awareness of the need to provide effective child safety in
motor vehicles, according to Craig Zwerling, associate professor of preventive
medicine at the UI College of Medicine and director of the UI Injury Prevention
"The airbag controversy helps shed light on the proper use of child
restraint devices," says Zwerling. "Rear-facing child seats should
never be used in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger-side air
bag. The deploying bag striking a rear-facing infant seat can result in
fatal injuries to a child.
"Use the vehicle's safety belts to secure the child seat in the
back seat of the automobile; for infants, face the seat rearward. The safest
place for all children is in the back seat of a vehicle, and buckled up,"
For more information about child safety seats and other ways to reduce
unintentional childhood injuries, contact Angie McLaughlin, State Coordinator
of the Iowa Safe Kids Coalition, at (515) 242-5833 or Jan Goldsmith, GTSB
Area Administrator, at (515) 281-6583.