NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


September 22, 2000

Washington, D.C.) National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Jim Hall will participate in the kick-off of the 21-city National Campaign to increase proper child safety seat use by African-American children. The event is sponsored by General Motors Corporation, the United Auto Workers (UAW), the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Free child-safety seat inspections will be offered, and potentially life-saving instructions will be provided by certified technicians to families attending the event. In addition, free child safety seats will be given to low-income families.

"As Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, I have made child passenger safety my first priority. The Safety Board has called upon every automaker, every state, and every child transport-related organization to establish permanent child safety seat fitting stations in every community. We want all parents and caregivers to have the opportunity to be sure that their child is safely secured in their vehicle," Jim Hall said.

"The most dangerous place we take our children is on our highways. I am pleased to participate in this initiative that will help stop the number one killer of our children - highway crashes," said Hall. During the last decade, more than 90,000 children under the age of 21 died in motor vehicle crashes. Over 16,500 of those children were under the age of 10. Six out of 10 children who die as passengers in motor vehicle crashes are not buckled up.

"As a native of Tennessee, I am personally concerned with the number of unnecessary fatalities involving America's young people on our highways," said Chairman Hall. "Last year, 50 children died on Tennessee roadways. That's almost one child per week, a statistic that should be unacceptable for every Tennessean," he added.

Highway tragedies do not discriminate. However, statistically, highway fatalities are more prevalent among African-American children. According to a report by Nashville's Meharry Medical College, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for African-Americans under the age of 20. Research conducted by Johns Hopkins University's School of Public Health also found that the risk of dying in a motor vehicle crash per mile of travel is three times greater for an African-American child, age 5 to 12, than it is for a Caucasian child.

"There are steps that can protect every child in a car today," Chairman Hall noted. "First, every child should ride in the back seat, and they should be buckled up every time they get in a vehicle. Adults can provide the example. Eighty percent of the time, when an adult buckles up, the children are also buckled up. But, when an adult doesn't buckle up, the child passenger restraint usage rate drops to 20 percent."

"Every child should be placed in a restraint system that is appropriate for their age and size." he said. "Seat belts, like air bags, were designed for adults, not children. Children under the age of four should be secured in a child safety seat designed especially for them. Children between four and eight should be in booster seats that position the lap and shoulder belt properly around their small bodies."

Child safety seats have proven to be more than 70 percent effective in preventing deaths and serious injuries. To get all of the benefits these safety seats offer, they must be used properly.

The Mid-South SAFE KIDS Coalition/NAACP Distribution and Check Up event is being held on September 23rd at Whitehaven Plaza, 4126 Elvis Presley Blvd., Memphis, Tennessee, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.


NTSB Media Contact:
Terry N. Williams

(901) 529-4000 (Peabody Hotel in Memphis TN)



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.