National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
WASHINGTON - The National Transportation Safety Board today presented an outstanding achievement award to DaimlerChrysler Corporation for its "Fit for a Kid" child safety seat inspection service.
"DaimlerChrysler has earned this recognition by setting a new safety standard for the automotive industry worldwide," said NTSB Chairman Jim Hall. "Fit for a Kid" delivers a much needed, lifesaving service to American families. In fact, it surpasses what we hoped for, and no other corporation in the world has matched it for quality, scope or dependability."
In January 1999, the NTSB issued safety recommendations to automobile manufacturers, child safety seat manufacturers, states and the federal government to work together to create a nationwide network of permanent locations where parents and caregivers could obtain information on the proper use of child restraints.
DaimlerChrysler was the first automobile manufacturer to respond to the recommendation. The company has committed about $15 million per year for the "Fit for a Kid" program, which will be operating in 1,000 of DaimlerChrysler's top "Five Star" dealerships by year's end.
"Fit for a Kid" incorporates free child seat inspections by certified, trained technicians into the dealership's regular service operation, the same as an oil change or other routine service. Parents or caregivers only need to call to make an appointment. The inspection takes 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the car seat and vehicle being inspected. DaimlerChrysler offers the service to owners of any make or model vehicle.
"It could be the most important 20 minutes of your child's life," Hall said. "I urge every parent to call and make an appointment to have their child's seat inspected."
The Safety Board recommended permanent child seat fitting stations because observational surveys and periodic child seat inspection events revealed that four out of five parents or caregivers were using child safety seats incorrectly, therefore not getting all of the benefits that the devices offer.
Australia has had permanent child seat fitting stations for about 17 years. In that country, the child safety seat misuse rate now is about 16 percent for safety seats that have been inspected at fitting stations.
Compounding the problem in the United States is that most parents and caregivers are unaware that they may be making potentially fatal errors when installing their child safety seats. In fact, a recent study by DaimlerChrysler and the National Safety Council found that 96 percent of caregivers believe they always install their children's seats properly, even though only 20 percent are correctly installed.
The study also found that no more than 19 percent of parents reported having their children's seats inspected.
General Motors has responded to the NTSB's fitting station recommendation by stepping up its commitment to SAFE KIDS. In January 2000, GM donated 51 Chevrolet Venture minivans to the SAFE KIDS organizations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia so they can set up roving child seat fitting stations.
Most recently, Ford announced a program called "BoostAmerica!," an education campaign aimed at making sure parents transition their children from child safety seats into booster seats until they are big enough for adult seat belts. "BoostAmerica!" also seeks to give away 500,000 seats to needy families during the first year of the campaign.
Families can obtain further information on these existing programs by accessing the following web sites or calling the following toll-free telephone numbers:
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.