CONTACT: TOM MOORE
8788 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
Release: Nov. 19, 1999
Hospital applauds law enforcement efforts to buckle
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Children's Hospital of Iowa today
announced its support of law enforcement efforts to protect children involved
in traffic accidents, the leading cause of death among children under age
Across the nation this Thanksgiving week (November 22-28),
the Iowa City Police Department and other law enforcement agencies will be
involved in a mobilization effort to increase the enforcement of child passenger
safety laws. Thousands of U.S. law enforcement agencies will take part in
the second wave of the 1999 "Operation ABC Mobilization: America Buckles Up
Children" -- the largest-ever coordinated enforcement effort aimed
at drivers who don't buckle up children.
"At this season of Thanksgiving, we need to show our appreciation
for the untold numbers of law enforcement officers in every state who work
tirelessly to protect our children from the greatest danger they face -- being
unrestrained in a crash," said Ricardo Martinez, administrator of the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), co-sponsor of the Operation
ABC Mobilization. "We know these officers will be energized by the
groundswell of support from organizations such as the Children's Hospital
of Iowa across the country."
"Law enforcement does so much good that goes unappreciated
that the staff members of the Children's Hospital of Iowa felt the need to
applaud every officer who takes the life-saving step of enforcing the child
passenger safety laws," said Frank Morriss, M.D., professor and head of the
UI Department of Pediatrics. "Our child health specialists are speaking out
for all of the people we serve because each one of us wants to protect children.
The Operation ABC Mobilization is the kind of broad, community-based
movement our nation needs to recognize and thank for putting a priority on
saving children's lives."
The Operation ABC Mobilization comes on the heels
of extremely successful mobilizations in 1998, as well as this year's
Memorial Day week mobilization. A study recently conducted by NHTSA
found that 19 million more Americans buckled up in 1998.
Most importantly, there is now strong statistical evidence
that Operation ABC is working to save lives. Between 1996 -- when the
Operation ABC Mobilization began -- and 1998, child fatalities in crashes
decreased by 12.3 percent. Over that same time period nationwide, child safety
restraint use for toddlers has increased by 30 percent; now almost 90 percent
of toddlers are restrained while traveling in motor vehicles. In the same
time period, the use of seat belts for children age 5-15 has risen to almost
"The impact of these Operation ABC Mobilizations clearly
illustrates that the combination of educating drivers about how dangerous
it is for children to be unrestrained and enforcing the safety restraint laws
is tremendously effective," said Jody Kurtt, associate director of Children's
and Women's Services at the UI Hospitals and Clinics. "Crashes are the leading
cause of death and injury among children between ages 0-15. Six out every
10 children killed in crashes are completely unrestrained. That's why we are
urging zero tolerance for unbuckled kids, and why the Children's Hospital
of Iowa gives its 'endorsement for enforcement' and pledges
our support for this campaign to protect children. The officers who enforce
seat belt laws are true heroes because they help save the lives of both children
The Children's Hospital of Iowa offers families an extensive
car seat loaner program, including regular car seats and special seats for
high-risk infants and children with orthopaedic problems. The CHI's Special
Care Nurseries also provide a special evaluation program that helps determine
an infant's readiness and tolerance to car seat positioning. Staff members
have also received special training to conduct car seat installation inspections.
"We are very passionate about this topic because we have
seen what terrible injuries and deaths happen when children are not properly
restrained," said Michele Alpen, a nursing specialist in UI Health Care's
Trauma Center. "We want to do everything we can to prevent those tragedies."
A survey conducted in the summer of 1999 by the UI Injury
Prevention Research Center showed that almost three-quarters (74.8 percent)
of children under age 6 appeared to be appropriately restrained in motor vehicles.
However, the rates of safety restraint were lower in the rural areas of the
state compared to the more urban areas.
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership
between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the
patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.