NHTSA set to roll out car-seat campaign

WASHINGTON, DC: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called upon the Academy for Educational Development (AED) to encourage parents to put their children in booster seats when riding in automobiles.

WASHINGTON, DC: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called upon the Academy for Educational Development (AED) to encourage parents to put their children in booster seats when riding in automobiles.

The assignment is part of the AED's one-year, $500,000 contract with the NHTSA.

The campaign, which is being rolled out during Child Passenger Safety Week (February 9-15), is designed to educate parents about which safety seats are needed for children at certain ages and stages of development. In the case of booster seats, they are designed for children who are four years old and weigh up to 40 pounds through age eight, or until a child reaches a height of 4' 9".

This portion of the effort is centered on an instructive logo, developed by the AED, which demonstrates four steps for securing children of various ages in cars. "Rather than burying parents in confusing options when they go out shopping for the seats, we simplified things to cement in their minds which seat is for which age," explained Debra Roth, senior communications manager for the AED.

The logo is featured in the Babies 'R' Us winter catalog, which was direct mailed to 2.2 million prenatal mothers. Coupons offering $10 off child seats at Babies 'R' Us and Toys 'R' Us will be distributed to parents through other nonprofit organizations, such as the National Safe Kids Campaign, the Emergency Nurses Association, and the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions.

Participating day-care centers will also be distributing the coupons, which are attached to a tear-off sheet that explains when in a child's development to use each particular safety seat.

"Rather than focusing on broadcast or print publicity," explained Roth, "we wanted to put something useful directly into the hands of people who need it." Furthermore, "recipients are also receiving education beyond the tear-off sheets because the people distributing them are equipped with additional knowledge and materials about child-passenger safety."

The AED's Center for Social Marketing and Behavior Change found that the problem of children not being properly secured in booster seats extends across all socioeconomic groups of every ethnicity.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics 2002, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among children ages four through 14.

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