Child-Seat Safety

Reality and perception are often not the same thing in so many areas of our lives. It shouldn't come as a shock that child safety is no different. Yet it does, perhaps because this knowledge gap is putting millions of children at risk.

This is the shocker: Ninety-six percent of parents and other caregivers believe they have their child safety seats installed correctly in their vehicles, yet actual inspections show that no more than 20 percent really do. That is one finding of a new survey conducted by DaimlerChrysler in cooperation with the National Safety Council.

The national survey of 600 adults who regularly drive with child passengers was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies of Alexandria, Va. It was part of a larger research project that also included extensive interviews and focus groups with DaimlerChrysler customers and others.

In part, DC is opening its new Fit For A Kid seat-inspection service up to everyone because in researching child-seat awareness, they and the NSC found some disturbing trends.

Among the findings:

-- More than 40 percent of those surveyed are unaware that national safety experts recommend all child seats be inspected

-- More than six out of ten do not know there are places to go to get the seats inspected.

-- Women are better informed about the issue and are far more likely to use an inspection service. Seventy-eight percent of women say they are "likely" to have their safety seats inspected compared to 65 percent of men. Forty-nine percent of women are "very likely" to have car seats inspected compared to 31 percent of men.

"It is clear that the entire safety community has a real job to do to inform parents that eight out of ten children are at risk and there are places to go for help," said Chuck Hurley, executive director of public affairs, National Safety Council.

Later this month, DaimlerChrysler will launch a multi-million dollar advertising campaign to promote awareness of the need to have child seats inspected. A new promotional partnership with the children's television and book character, Arthur, aims to do the same. In addition, every new Fisher-Price safety seat sold will contain safety tips and information on the Fit for a Kid service.

The service is now available at almost 400 participating Five-Star DaimlerChrysler dealerships and is expected to be available at 1,000 Five Star dealerships by the end of the year. This is an expansion of its pilot program that started last summer with 51 dealers in four cities (Denver, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Sacramento and Washington, D.C.).

During the pilot program, the service was intended for DaimlerChrysler customers only.

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