AAA begins pushing greater use of child safety seats

WASHINGTON: The American Automobile Association (AAA) has started a national public awareness campaign to increase usage of safety seats for young children, as well as enact new state laws on the issue.

WASHINGTON: The American Automobile Association (AAA) has started a national public awareness campaign to increase usage of safety seats for young children, as well as enact new state laws on the issue.

A three-person in-house PR team at AAA's Washington, DC headquarters is handling the campaign, which began earlier this month with a press conference in Chicago. PR people at each of its 75 chapters around the country are working on the grassroots aspects of the project. "The strategy is to really push the story on the local level,

said Mantill Williams, national director of public affairs.

The association is distributing a PSA to 200 TV stations; it features actress Marlee Matlin discussing child safety. AAA has also called on automakers to have specialists at dealerships show car buyers how to properly install safety seats. Also included is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is addressing the child-safety issue at its press events.

Another element of the campaign was to give Parents magazine an exclusive on what the association dubbed "top cars for families," Williams said.

B-roll and a VNR produced in conjunction with the Parents story, which appeared in mid-March, garnered 35 million impressions.

On the legislative front, AAA hopes to get laws passed around the country dealing with car-seat restraints for children weighing between 50 and 80 pounds - a group not covered by most current child-safety laws. Most car-seat laws only deal with infants. AAA's goal is to change state laws by 2005. "We definitely feel we have the network to get state laws passed,

Williams said.

Ongoing campaign efforts include a new website and information included in publications sent to AAA's 45 million members. Initial PR spending on the campaign is $30,000.

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