[2 MB, 12 pgs.]
Fewer Minority Children Properly Restrained in Vehicles
Researchers at the University of Michigan recently set out to determine factors associated with child passenger safety practices by race/ethnicity. Using a national sample of more than 20,000 passengers under age 13, they determined that minority children are less likely to use recommended child passenger restraints than their white peers.
Specifically, black and Hispanic infants and toddlers were found to be unrestrained at rates 10 times those of white children. Riding with an unbuckled driver and sitting in the front seat decreased the likelihood that a child was using an appropriate child restraint, and older children were less likely to be properly restrained.
The report, published in the September 2012 edition of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, suggests that understanding these reasons for suboptimal child passenger restraint use is a critical element to creating effective programs that can reduce crash-related injuries and fatalities.
Luckily, such programs do exist. Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Toyota have teamed up to create “Buckle Up for Life,” an initiative that works through churches to teach people the importance of buckling up and using car seats. The program addresses three important factors that contribute to lack of restraint use among minorities:
- Economic. Because African Americans and Hispanics are disproportionately represented in lower socioeconomic groups, parents may own older vehicles without seat belts or be unable to afford a car seat. “Buckle Up for Life” provides free car seats.
- Educational. The communities served may be unaware of the importance of seat belts. This program teaches people the safety implications of not buckling up and restraining their children, and experts are available to help install car seats properly.
- Cultural. A family may have no history of using seat belts or child safety seats.
The program has been successful: restraint use at Cincinnati-area churches has gone up significantly, according to studies conducted by the hospital and Toyota. In addition to Cincinnati, “Buckle Up for Life” currently is offered in churches in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Houston and Las Vegas, and it is expected to expand to Philadelphia, Orange County, CA and other cities this year.