Jim Hall, Chairman
National Transportation Safety Board
at the National Safe Kids Campaign/General Motors Chevy Venture
Mobile Fitting Station Press Conference
January 18, 2000
Thank you, Autumn. Your story is an important message for all parents across America. Every day, well-meaning parents, like you, make an effort to properly buckle up their children, but eight out of 10 parents unknowing make one or more mistakes that could jeopardize their child's safety. To reduce the number of needless deaths and injuries to children we need stronger child restraint laws, we need to be sure that children are in restraint systems appropriate for their size, and we need to be sure that the restraints are used properly.
That's why, a year ago this month, at the National Safe Kids Campaign 1999 Leadership Conference, I stood before this same group of dedicated child safety advocates and asked automobile manufacturers and the states to establish permanent fitting stations where parents, like Autumn Skeen, could take their child and safety seat to see if they have buckled the safety seat and their child in properly. I am pleased that today, General Motors, in cooperation with the National Safe Kids campaign, has answered that call to action and will make fitting stations a reality in all 50 States and the District of Columbia.
General Motors, along with DaimlerChrysler, two of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world, have demonstrated with their deeds and their dollars that they are committed to child transportation safety making fitting stations available to the public. This is wonderful news for the children of America.
But General Motors and DaimlerChrysler, even with the help of the many dedicated volunteers across the country, like the Safe Kids Coalitions, cannot provide service for everyone in the country by themselves. There are just too many children and parents who require this type of support and assistance. It's time for the other automobile manufacturers and dealers to become actively involved in this lifesaving program and provide similar services for their customers.
Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death in this country for young children. Since 1990, nearly 15,000 children under the age of 10 have died in motor vehicle crashes. That means that five children under the age of 10 are dying unnecessarily every day in motor vehicle crashes.
Several years ago, General Motors and Safe Kids led the way with their periodic car seat clinics that clearly identified the extent of the safety seat misuse problem and paved the way for permanent fitting stations to be established. We must correct the problem of child safety seat misuse in America. I have no doubt that the hundreds of child safety leaders here today who will take these vans into communities across the country will save children's lives.
Parents and caregivers, please take advantage of the inspections that will be offered by these mobile check-up vans to ensure that your children are traveling safely.
My congratulations to Heather Paul, Alan Korn, Karen DiCapua and all of the dedicated members of National Safe Kids Campaign, and to John Middlebrook from General Motors, Dan Keller of Chevy Venture, and the entire General Motors safety team for this most important effort that you are launching today. I look forward to hearing about your successes.