NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


April 14, 2000

LOS ANGELES - National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall today called on the Latino community to do all it can to increase child safety seat awareness and use by Latinos in Los Angeles.

The announcement was made at a child safety seat checkup event held at the Multicultural Area Health Education Center in East Los Angeles. The Los Angeles project is part of a national campaign by the NTSB to eliminate highway crashes as the leading cause of death of children in America.

Today's event was co-sponsored by the NTSB, General Motors Corp., the United Auto Workers Union, the National Council of La Raza and the National SAFE KIDS Campaign.

Studies have shown that the highway death rates for Latino youths are higher than those for white children, and that safety seat use in the Latino community nationwide is lower than the national average.

"We are gratified that a nationally recognized grass roots organization like NCLR will help deliver the important message of proper child safety seat use where it is most needed - directly to the Latino community and Latino families."

Joining Chairman Hall at the event were Raul Yzaguirre, president and chief executive of the NCLR, and Rod Gillum, General Motors vice president for corporate relations.

Between 1990 and 1998, more than 82,000 children under age 20 died in motor vehicle crashes, and more than 15,000 of those were under age 10.

"That's 33 children under the age of 10 dying every week on our highways," Chairman Hall said.

Hispanic teens have the highest occupant death rate among all 13- to 19-year-olds. The death rate for Hispanic children aged 5 to 12 is 43 percent lower than the rate for African-American children in the same age group, but 72 percent greater than the rate for white children. Hispanic children under the age of 4 have the second highest highway death rate after African-American children.

"We react with horror at every random act of street violence that takes the life of an innocent child and we rightfully demand action when a child is killed in one of our schools," Chairman Hall said. "Yet, we don't react with equal shock to the number one killer of our children - highway crashes. It's time we did. And, it's time that we all demand that something be done to end this needless loss of young lives on our roadways. "

The proper use of seat belts and child safety seats is the single most effective way to protect children from death and serious injury. Seat belts are nearly 50 percent effective in preventing fatalities and child safety seats can reduce the risk by 70 percent.

But to get those benefits, restraints have to be properly used. Seat belts are designed for adults, so children under 8 years old should be in a booster seat, child safety seat or infant seat that is correctly used and appropriate for the child's size and weight.

Child safety seat checkup events have consistently shown that eight out of 10 parents and caregivers fail to properly secure the child, despite their best efforts. Worse, a survey showed that 96 percent of parents and caregivers think they are correctly using child seats.

To bridge this knowledge gap, the Safety Board challenged automakers, child seat manufacturers, the Federal government and states to establish permanent child seat fitting stations to provide much needed information.

Chairman Hall called for more fitting station events in Latino communities and asked local businesses to help make that happen. He also asked Latino families to make sure that children are always properly secured in automobiles.

GM, the UAW, NCLR and SAFE KIDS have partnered to provide child safety seats and safety education to Latino families across the country. GM and the UAW have committed $25 million over three years for the seats. The seats are distributed through the NCLR, while the safety education is provided by SAFE KIDS.

Chairman Hall's remarks are available on the Safety Board's web page.

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NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.