Category Archives: Child Safety

Put the Brakes on Fatalities

By Debbie Hersman

Monday was Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day. It’s a day to be ambitious and work toward zero fatalities on our nation’s roadways — one day at a time. This campaign brings together State, Federal, private industry, and safety advocates from across the country to spread the message on what causes transportation fatalities, especially highway deaths, and how we can avoid them. As in years past, this year’s education efforts focused on driver behavior, vehicle safety, and roadway improvements to reduce traffic deaths across the country.

This campaign is supported by 21 states. Pictured is one of the winners of the 2010 Kansas poster contest. This child’s poster makes a powerful point, especially since traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for toddlers through age 34.

Sadly, many accidents, injuries, and deaths are the result of a tragic choice — the choice not to use a seat belt or to properly restrain a child, the choice to drive distracted, the choice to drive impaired by alcohol or fatigue. This day is an opportunity for everyone to remember that each one of us has a personal responsibility to make safe decisions when we are behind the wheel.

More people die on our roadways than in all other forms of transportation combined. This is why the NTSB placed Addressing Alcohol-Impaired Driving, Teen Driver Safety, Motorcycle Safety, and Addressing Fatigue on our Most Wanted List.

Every day — drive safely and put the brakes on fatalities.

Taking Care of Our Youngest Travelers

By Debbie Hersman

Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician since 2004

How many times have you been at an amusement park and seen one of those “you must be this tall to ride this ride” sign to determine whether your child can go on the ride? When it comes to fitting in an adult safety belt, there is a magic number for parents to remember: 4’9″.

Chairman Hersman discussing proper use of child car seats with a parent.
Chairman Hersman discussing proper use of child car seats with a parent.

But until your child is 4’9″ tall, it can be a challenge to decide which car seat or booster seat is best and then determine whether you have installed it and are using it properly. Thanks to organizations like Safe Kids USA, it is easier for parents to do the right thing. In fact, this is National Child Passenger Safety Week and Safe Kids USA has organized hundreds of free car-seat inspection stations across the country.

This year, the NTSB has made improving child and youth safety an agency priority. This week, you can take advantage of a free car-seat inspection station in your community to learn how to transport your child safely. To find an inspection station in your area, please go to: http://www.safekids.org/in-your-area/.

Improving Child Safety, One Seat at a Time

By Debbie Hersman
Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician since 2004

40,000th child safety seat check at Fitzgerald Auto Mall
Fitzgerald Auto Mall's 40,000th child safety seat check

As a mother of three children, I’ve had lots of practice installing child seats. Unfortunately, snugly attaching these devices to cars is not easy, and every year, there are new child seat designs and new vehicle designs which can further complicate the process. That’s what makes permanent fitting stations, where parents are educated on best practices for transporting children and techniques for installing child seats, so important.

For the last 12 years, Fitzgerald Auto Malls has provided this service in the Washington, D.C. region. Jack Fitzgerald is committed to child passenger safety, and his volunteers are some of the most dedicated and capable child seat technicians around. What I really admire about Jack is that his child seat inspections are not just for his customers, but for anyone seeking to learn how to install the seat properly.

Today, Jack and his volunteers reached an amazing milestone, checking their 40,000th child safety seat! I don’t think I’ve done anything 40,000 times. It would take 55 years of brushing my teeth twice a day every day to reach that number. But month after month, year after year, Jack and his team have made countless children safer and show no signs of stopping any time soon.

I want to commend Jack and all the volunteers who participate in these life-saving child seat inspections. When Fitzgerald Auto Malls started these monthly events, the misuse rate of child seats was 97 percent; today, the misuse rate has dropped to 50 percent. They are showing how people in the community can make a real difference!

Safe Children, Safe Cars

By Debbie Hersman

Chairman Hersman speaks to students at William Halley Elementary School
Chairman Hersman speaks to students at William Halley Elementary School

Summer is fast approaching and kids are pouring outside to play. Sadly, every year we hear too many news reports about children being struck and killed by a vehicle or dying from heat stroke because of being trapped in a vehicle. The statistics are sobering.

According to KidsAndCars.org, a nonprofit group that works to improve child safety around cars, every week in the United States at least 50 children are backed over by a car. Forty-eight are treated in hospital emergency rooms and at least two children die. Last year, nearly 50 children died from hyperthermia after being left in a hot car – the greatest number since the statistics started being tracked.

These accidents are preventable. Education is the first step.

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