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FOR RELEASE: November 9, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Oklahoma SAFE KIDS Garners Awards in Child Passenger Safety

Two awards – one on the national level and one state level award – were presented to the Oklahoma SAFE KIDS Coalition recently for their involvement in getting more children buckled up and buckled up properly. On the national level, the coalition, a program of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, was recognized for the large number of child safety seats they have checked in the past two years. The coalition ranked second among more than 300 coalitions nationwide in volume of activity.

The award was for the “SAFE KIDS Buckle Up” program, a nationwide initiative to inspect families' child safety seats for proper installation. Studies have shown at least four out of five child safety seats are misused in some way or not installed correctly.

Jim Hall, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, presented the award along with Harry Pearce, vice-chairman of General Motors, and Heather Paul, executive director of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign.

In addition, Oklahoma SAFE KIDS was recognized by the University of Oklahoma College of Public Health and its Alumni Association at the fifth annual Public Health Excellence Awards dinner, also for the coalition's work in child passenger safety.

SAFE KIDS has trained more than 1,000 child passenger safety advocates statewide, including more than 200 certified technicians. These volunteers have conducted 65 check-up events, distributing hundreds of free child safety seats and inspecting more than 2,400 seats for proper installation. Primary co-sponsors of the SAFE KIDS Buckle Up program in Oklahoma are KFOR-TV and State Farm Insurance.

Due to the efforts of these groups and others, this year Oklahoma experienced an increase of 16 percentage points in child safety seat use -- the largest single-year increase since passage of the child safety seat law in 1984. Usage currently stands at 78 percent.

Families can find out more about upcoming child safety seat checks by calling Oklahoma SAFE KIDS, 405-271-5695, or accessing their web site: http://connections.connectok.com/safekids.

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