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FOR RELEASE: February 10, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Oklahoma SAFE KIDS Coalition and GM Unveil New Mobile Car Seat Check Up Van during Child Passenger Safety Week (Feb. 13-19)

In an effort to bring a vital public service to those populations most at risk, the Oklahoma SAFE KIDS Coalition announced today that it is taking child passenger safety on the road with its new Mobile Car Seat Check-Up Van. The van is one of a fleet of 51 across the country donated by General Motors' Chevrolet division. It is part of a new initiative that will provide life-saving child passenger safety information and hands-on car seat installations to hard-to-reach communities and parents as a free public service to automobile owners of all makes and models.

The customized 2000 Chevy Venture vans will become a permanent extension of SAFE KIDS BUCKLE UP, a five-year, $10.6 million partnership between the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and General Motors.

The Mobile Car Seat Check-Up Van will make its debut Thursday, February 17, at Kids Inc. child development center, 724 N.E. 14th St., Oklahoma City, from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. to assist parents with car seat installations. The van's launch coincides with National Child Passenger Safety Week.

"Although we've been very successful at reaching parents who attend car seat checkups at GM dealerships, we haven't yet reached those parents who allow their children to ride unrestrained. These are the parents who tend to underestimate their child's risk of being seriously injured or even killed in a car crash," said Martha Collar, coalition coordinator. "The van will allow us the flexibility to reach people in areas we haven't been able to before."

Collar said the van will enable the SAFE KIDS Coalition to offer free car seat check-ups and important child passenger safety information to day care centers, youth centers, shopping malls and other community centers where it will reach those most at risk – children who aren't restrained at all.

Despite numerous public awareness campaigns on properly restraining children in motor vehicles and thousands of newly certified child passenger safety technicians nationwide, an estimated 30 percent of children still ride unrestrained and 85 percent of car seats continue to be used wrong. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 14 and under. However, car seats and safety belts, when used correctly, reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent.

The Mobile Car Seat Check-Up Van adds a new dimension to the extremely successful SAFE KIDS BUCKLE Up program. Launched in 1997, the multifaceted child passenger safety effort is a broad-based public education program that includes bilingual educational materials, a public service campaign, workshops for health educators offering instruction on car seat installation, and free car seat check-up events open to the public at participating GM dealerships. Since its inception, more than 1,500 dealerships have participated and 45,000 car seats have been checked.

In addition to mobile checkups operated out of the Coalition's van, Oklahoma SAFE KIDS, along with the more than 270 SAFE KIDS Coalitions nationwide, will continue hosting scheduled checkups at area GM dealerships throughout the year. A list of local checkups is available through the National SAFE KIDS Campaign's Web site at www.safekids.org. To receive free educational materials about how to use car seats and safety belts correctly, call (800) 441-1888.

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