AAA touts car safety seats in national effort

WASHINGTON: Many AAA chapters nationally are launching events and conducting media outreach this month to promote the importance of car safety seats and to advocate for stronger laws within individual states.

WASHINGTON: Many AAA chapters nationally are launching events and conducting media outreach this month to promote the importance of car safety seats and to advocate for stronger laws within individual states.

At a press event scheduled for January 17 in DC, for instance, AAA planned to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first car safety seat law, passed in Tennessee, with an exhibit of 392 seats, representing the number of lives saved in 2006 because of the seats. A similar display shows design improvements made over the past 30 years. The AAA will also release a survey on parental attitudes toward car seats.

The event was also scheduled to feature a speech by a mother whose daughter was saved by a car seat and who successfully lobbied for passage of Georgia's first seat-related law, in 2003.

AAA director of public affairs Michael Pina noted that safety seats is one of the organization's three primary outreach goals this year, along with teen driving and "senior mobility," and that the anniversary of the first car seat law provided a good hook for media and public outreach.

"There's not much new to say about car seats now, so we were looking to do something really creative to play up the role of the car seat," Pina said. "People associate us with roadside assistance and discounts at hotels. They're not aware that AAA has a large government relations and advocacy department."

On the same day, at an event in Tennessee to honor the state's 1978 statute, Gov. Phil Bredesen (D -TN) was expected to participate in a similar news conference advocating consistent laws around the country, including ages for their required use.

Leticia Messam, manager of traffic safety programs for AAA Auto Club South, also said her group planned extensive media outreach tied to a January 28 event at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, where the general public can have their car seats checked for proper installation and learn about common installation mistakes. All of the events are being managed in-house.

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