Increasing Booster Seat Use for 4- to 8-Year-Old Children - October 2002Increasing Booster Seat Use for 4- to 8-Year-Old Children - October 2002  
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Section Four: Work in Progress

   

Section Four: Work in Progress photoThe promotion of booster seats has been an important part of the BUA campaign's child passenger safety activities. For the past several years, NHTSA, its partners, and the private sector have incorporated messages, statistics, and best practices information about the lifesaving benefits of booster seats throughout their wide-ranging child passenger safety programming and communications activities.

These child passenger safety initiatives have included a special focus on reaching traditionally underserved populations. NHTSA will continue this focus as it expands these initiatives to promote the use of booster seats. The following information highlights current efforts that promote the correct progression of occupant restraint use for children.

Public Awareness and Education

    4 Steps For Kids Logo
  • 4 Steps for Kids is a NHTSA marketing campaign currently in operation to promote the proper use of each type of restraint.
  • In partnership with the Advertising Council, Inc., NHTSA is developing a national media campaign about booster seats.
  • Private sector partnerships, such as the "SAFE KIDS BUCKLE UP" program supported by General Motors and DaimlerChrysler's "Fit for a Kid" campaign, support NHTSA in educating the public about the importance of using age/size appropriate child restraints. NHTSA also has been a close partner in the development and refinement of the "Boost America!" program sponsored by Ford Motor Company, which distributed newly developed preschool and early elementary school curricula (in conjunction with Nickelodeon) promoting booster seat use. In recent years, other private sector supported Child Passenger Safety (CPS) programs have been developed by Nissan North America, Volkswagen of America, State Farm Insurance, and AAA.
  • High-visibility activities are conducted nationwide annually during CPS Week in mid-February to heighten public awareness about the importance of correct child safety seat use. NHTSA develops educational, outreach, and media materials to support efforts conducted by advocates at the local level. Booster seat use was at the core of the 2000 and 2001 programs. In 2002/03, the materials will continue to reinforce the importance of booster seat use using the 4 Steps For Kids approach. This approach emphasizes the correct ages, weights, and heights at which children can safely transition from each type of restraint system—infant seat, child seat, booster seat, and adult seat belt.
  • For the past several years, in May and November, the Air Bag & Seat Belt Safety Campaign (a national non-profit organization supported financially by the insurance companies, the automobile industry, and air bag manufacturers), in partnership with NHTSA and the States, has conducted high-visibility, stepped-up law enforcement mobilizations to enforce seat belt and child passenger safety laws. NHTSA supports the national Operation ABC mobilizations by engaging its network of partner organizations to conduct activities, disseminate information, and organize publicity to increase awareness of law enforcement efforts to protect children and the importance of age/size appropriate child restraint systems.
    A Parents Guide to Buying and Using Booster Seats Brochure Cover
  • For NHTSA is developing bilingual and culturally appropriate child passenger safety intervention strategies, and educational materials for Spanish-speaking families, in conjunction with the National Latino Children's Institute and other highly regarded Hispanic organizations. Increasing booster seat use is an integral part of this effort.
    Buying a Safer Car for Child Passengers 2002 Brochure Cover
  • NHTSA is reproducing a brochure titled "Keep Your Child Safe While Traveling," developed by the Injury Prevention Program at United Tribes Technical College. The brochure includes information about all child safety seat systems, including booster seats. It is designed specifically for Native Americans and is available through NHTSA's Web site (www.nhtsa.dot.gov) and print materials catalog.
  • Four booklets ("A Parent's Guide to Booster Seats," "Are You Using It Right?," "Child Transportation Safety Tips," and "Buying A Safer Car For Child Passengers, 2002") provide parents and other caregivers with important information about age/size appropriate child restraints, the correct use of child restraints, and the benefits of occupant protection. NHTSA and its partner organizations in the child passenger advocacy community distribute these materials throughout the country.
  • NHTSA will continue to produce educational videos on topics such as child safety seats and booster seats, youth occupant protection, airbag safety, and adult occupant protection.
  • NHTSA's Web site has a separate section devoted to child passenger safety. It serves as a public information resource on appropriate child passenger restraints, proper installation of child restraints, and where to find local fitting/inspection stations. Included are dozens of full-color photographs of booster seats and other types of child safety seats with step-by-step installation guidelines. All NHTSA educational publications are available on the NHTSA Web site.
  • NHTSA's toll-free hotline [1-888-DASH-2-DOT (1-888-327-4236)] is staffed by operators who provide answers to a variety of questions, including child passenger safety.

Training and Technical Assistance

  • A Model Occupant Restraint Law (02/06/01) was developed in partnership with the National Transportation Safety Board, the Governors Highway Safety Association, and the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances. The model law provides States with specific guidelines for developing and revising child occupant protection laws.
  • The National Child Passenger Safety Board represents a partnership between State governments and private sector organizations. The purpose of the board is to manage the implementation of the NHTSA Standardized CPS Training and AAA Certification Program. The 19-member board provides guidance to States, organizations, and others wishing to implement child passenger safety training programs to benefit the public.
  • More than 32,000 child passenger safety technicians have undergone at least 32 hours of CPS training and certification to become eligible to install child safety seats and educate parents and other caregivers on the proper installation of appropriate safety restraints for children. This program, funded through a cooperative agreement between NHTSA and the National Safety Council, and administered by the States, will continue to provide additional training opportunities (to include more diverse populations) and to maintain an up-to-date training curriculum. There are also programs underway to increase the number of Hispanic and other minority CPS technicians.
  • Through its partnership with the U.S. Indian Health Service, NHTSA is supporting CPS training and technical assistance programs for tribal representatives. This training and technical assistance includes information on booster seats.
  • Operation Kids is a training program developed by NHTSA and administered by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The program teaches law enforcement officers about child passenger safety including general information about child occupant protection laws and the proper use of all child safety seats.

Outreach

  • A fitting/inspection station is a place where parents and other caregivers can go to learn how to properly install child safety seats and booster seats. NHTSA is developing a best practices planning guide for States and organizations that wish to establish permanent fitting/inspection stations. Many States have already established fitting/inspection stations with incentive funds made available through the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21).
  • NHTSA is developing a booklet titled "Protecting America's Children: The Case for Strong Child Occupant Protection Laws" to help States and communities close gaps in State child occupant protection laws. The booklet will include a copy of the Model Child Restraint Use Law, which is designed to make State laws consistent with recommended best practices.
  • The Ford Motor Company's "Boost America!" campaign promotes and distributes booster seats. NHTSA was a lead partner in the effort, offering technical assistance and coordination with booster seat distribution activities in the States. The program disseminated thousands of booster seats in its first year (2001) and awarded financial assistance to local organizations to support grassroots booster seat advocacy and distribution activities.
  • As part of the "Boost America!" campaign to get children to use booster seats, Ford donated 15,000 seats to Native American youngsters in 17 States.
  • NHTSA has a series of partnerships with national not-for-profit organizations that receive NHTSA funding to support the BUA campaign. Many of these cooperative agreements include a stipulation that funded recipients devote significant energy to child passenger safety activities, many of which include local initiatives for increasing booster seat use.
  • This past year, NHTSA adapted several child passenger safety publications into Spanish and worked with media outlets to make them available in Spanish-speaking communities.
  • The agency will continue to collaborate with educators and child safety advocates who work with Hispanic leaders to develop community-based programs that address booster seat use.
  • The NHTSA hotline has contracted with three Spanish-speaking representatives who will respond to phone queries about child passenger safety.

Research

  • The 2000 Motor Vehicle Occupant Safety Survey is the fourth in a series of national telephone surveys on occupant protection issues conducted by NHTSA. It consists of two separate questionnaires, each administered to a national sample of about 6,000 persons age 16 and older. The survey asks a subgroup of parents and others who live with children detailed questions about use of child restraints, including the use of booster seats. As this plan goes to press, reports summarizing results of the 2000 survey are being completed and processed for publication.
  • The Agency will conduct a follow-up to the 1996 child safety seat misuse study. The new study, to be completed by spring 2003, will be used to assess progress in curtailing child safety seat and booster seat misuse and to develop educational messages targeted at reducing the most dangerous forms of misuse.
  • The Agency will conduct research into methods and procedures for conducting a National Survey of Booster Seat Use and design such a survey if it is deemed feasible. Currently, there are no existing procedures for collection of booster seat use data that would result in a nationally representative estimate.

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 213 (49 CFR 571.213)

In response to other requirements of the TREAD Act, NHTSA is considering amendments to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 213, which specifies performance requirements for child restraints. The Agency is considering several initiatives to more fully evaluate the dynamic performance of booster seats recommended for a wider range of children.

Further, the Agency is in the process of developing, in conjunction with the Society of Automotive Engineers, a 10-year-old dummy that is envisioned to be used in the evaluation of booster seats for children weighing approximately 80 pounds.
Assuming amendments to FMVSS 213 are finalized, manufacturers may need to examine current booster seat models and make decisions about developing new ones. This circumstance will provide them with opportunities to produce new booster seats that may be more appealing to children and easier to use in a variety of motor vehicles.

Funding

TEA-21 (P.L. 105-178) authorized programs for fiscal years (FY) 1998 – 2003. States and communities have been applying for a number of highway safety grants that are used in part to promote child passenger safety activities. The grant programs are as follows:

  • State & Community Highway Safety Grant Program (23 U.S.C.§402)
  • Seat Belt & Occupant Protection Programs (incentive and innovative grant programs) (23 U.S.C.§157)
  • Occupant Protection Incentive Grant Program (23 U.S.C.§405)
  • Child Passenger Protection Education Grant Program [TEA-21, §2003(b)]. This is the only highway safety grant program dedicated solely to promoting child passenger safety activities. A State may use these grant funds to implement programs that are designed to: (1) prevent deaths and injuries to children; (2) educate the public concerning all aspects of the proper installation of child restraints, appropriate child restraint design, selection, and placement, and harness threading and harness adjustment on child restraints; and (3) train and retrain child passenger safety professionals, police officers, fire and emergency medical personnel, and other educators concerning all aspects of child restraint use. This grant program was originally funded for only 2 years through FY 2001. It was extended through NHTSA's FY 2002 appropriation.

In addition to the grant programs described above, under 23 U.S.C.§403, NHTSA conducts demonstration grant programs to develop new approaches and strategies to reduce motor vehicle related deaths and injuries. Under Section 403, NHTSA awarded six Booster Seat Community Demonstration Grant Programs (FY 2000-2001) totaling approximately $900,000 for pilot and demonstration programs to implement strategies in the community, to increase booster seat use for children weighing between 40 and 80 pounds.7 The demonstration programs also promoted seat belt use for children ages 8 to 15. Messages and activities targeted parents, children, young teens, and diverse populations.

Reauthorization of highway safety funding will occur during the 5-year span of this strategic plan. As the U.S. Department of Transportation develops its reauthorization proposal, the goals and initiatives identified in this report will be taken into consideration.

NHTSA also provides funding and a wide range of other support to the annual Lifesavers Conference. Sessions on booster seat use and issues facing older child passengers are a staple of this conference.


7At the time of the funding, the agency's policy stated that children between 40 and 80 pounds be secured in a belt-positioning booster seat. The new recommendation to determine readiness for a booster seat is that "all children who have outgrown child safety seats should be properly restrained in booster seats until they are at least 8 years old, unless they are 4'9" tall."

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4 Steps For Kids Campaign
Describes proper fit for each type of restraint system—infant seat, child seat, booster seat, and adult seat belt.
NHTSA’s Hotline 1-888-327-4236
All NHTSA educational publications are available on the NHTSA Web site: www.nhtsa.dot.gov
THE CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY MODEL LAW
Provides States with specific guidelines for developing and revising child occupant protection laws.
THE NATIONAL CHILD PASSENGER SAFETY BOARD
Provides guidance to States, organizations, and others wishing to implement child passenger safety training programs to benefit the public.
OPERATION KIDS
Is a training program developed by NHTSA and administered by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. The program teaches law enforcement officers about child passenger safety.
NHTSA’s cooperative agreements with national not-for-profit organizations support local initiatives promoting child passenger safety and the use of booster seats.
Protecting Our Older Child Passengers
This report contains legislative recommendations to close the gaps in child occupant protection laws.
NHTSA will perform research into the feasibility of conducting a National Survey of Booster Seat Use.
The Agency is considering several initiatives to more fully evaluate the dynamic performance of booster seats recommended for a wider range of children.
The new recommendation to determine readiness for a booster seat is that "all children who have outgrown child safety seats should be properly restrained in booster seats until they are at least 8 years old, unless they are 4'9" tall.