MAY 19, 1997

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Guest Editorial

Making it unacceptable to drive with unbuckled children

unbuckled children by the National Safety Council
Did you know:   Nearly everyone in America has now heard of the potential dangers air bags may pose to children. Unfortunately, education alone has not been enough to motivate all drivers to change their habits and buckle children 12 and under in the back seat. Surveys show that almost half of all Americans are still not following the safety advice--Air bag safety means: Buckle Everyone! Children in Back! This statistic translates into tragedy. Since January, reports indicate that four small children riding in the laps of front seat passengers were killed when an air bag deployed in a crash.
   "We've all seen children riding unbuckled--sometimes leaning up against the dashboard or kneeling in the seat looking out with their little faces pressed up against the window--and wished we could do something about it," said Janet Dewey, Executive Director of the Air Bag Safety Campaign. "Stepped up enforcement of child passenger safety and safety belt laws and strengthened laws are what is needed to protect children who are in serious danger in the event of a car crash."
   Motor vehicle crashes--not disease or crime--are the leading cause of death of children. The best way to address this startling statistic is to increase compliance nationwide with child passenger safety and safety seat laws.
   That's why the Air Bag Safety Campaign has launched Operation ABC: Mobilizing America to Buckle Up Children. In partnership with the campaign, and with the support of the President of the United States and the nation's governors and mayors, law enforcement in all 50 states will be stepping up enforcement of child passenger safety and safety belt laws during Buckle Up America! Week, May 19-26, in order to protect children and families from potential crash-related injuries.
   Public support for strengthening child passenger safety laws and stronger enforcement of existing laws is very strong: 76 percent of those surveyed support it. "It's time to make unbuckled children unacceptable in America," Dewey added.