Ford Motor Company Grants $35,000 to Vermont to Boost Child Passenger Safety

    DEARBORN, Mich., Feb. 8 Ford Motor Company announced today
that it will award $35,000 in child passenger safety training and booster
seats to the Vermont Governor's Office of Highway Safety.  Ford is awarding
more than $1 million in assistance to groups in 32 states and Washington, D.C.
to improve child passenger safety.   The local support is part of the
company's national Boost America! campaign to increase the awareness and
proper use of booster seats and child safety seats -- one of the largest child
safety efforts ever by an automaker.
    Vermont has a network of six certified child passenger safety instructors
and over 100 certified technicians.  The state has a well-developed network of
organizations and agencies devoted to reducing motor vehicle related injuries
involving children.  This collaborative effort includes 14 Sheriff's
Departments, State Police, hospitals childcare centers and the SAFE KIDS
coalition.
    Through this network, child passenger safety services are provided to the
largely rural population, where poverty rates are higher than in other areas
of the state, there is widespread lack of knowledge of child passenger safety
and little or no access to restraints.  Another problem that has been
identified is the lack of trained professionals that are able to provide
special needs transportation education to their current network of
technicians.   The grant will allow Vermont to sponsor a special needs
training and to provide much needed restraints in its underserved rural areas.
    The grants are being announced to help mark National Child Passenger
Safety Week, which is held February 11-17, 2001.
    According to government statistics, few children over the age of three
ride with the protection of a booster seat and safety belt.  This contributes
to the fact that more than 500 children ages 4 to 8 are killed in car crashes
every year.  Boost America!  intends to change that by making sure that the
message that all children weighing 40-80 pounds (roughly ages 4 to 8) should
ride on a booster seat is heard loud and clear all across the country.
    The nation's leading highway safety and child welfare organizations are
part of the Boost America! campaign to ensure that a variety of communications
resources are used to reach children, their parents and caregivers.
    Ford Motor Company and the International Center for Injury Prevention
(ICIP) reviewed more than 120 applications before deciding on the 22 states
that will be receiving the awards announced today.  In addition, in December
Ford announced the award of 15,000 booster seats total to 44 Native American
tribes in 17 states.  The applications were evaluated and ranked according to
factors such as:  current level of programming and sustainability, uniqueness
of proposal and impact of Boost America! assistance on the program.  Other
factors like involvement with health agencies and ability to reach minority
and rural populations were also taken into account.
    ICIP, a Boost America! safety partner, will work with the states to
conduct child passenger safety training classes, distribute booster seats and
help implement local programs.
    "Central to our strategy will be local people working in their communities
to host child passenger safety technician certification courses and working
closely with minority communities to establish permanent child seat and
booster seat fitting stations," said ICIP Executive Director Elaine Kizewski.
    Leading safety advocates agree that children who have outgrown traditional
child safety seats designed for infants and toddlers need to use a booster
seat until they are big enough physically to transition to the adult lap and
shoulder belts.  Booster seats are easy to use and, as the name suggests,
raise the child up in the seat so adult safety belts fit them better and more
comfortably-low across the hips and pelvis, and with the shoulder belt across
the chest.
    "The key to educating parents and children alike about the need for
booster seats is to reach them through familiar, local communications
channels," said Kizewski.  "We must make it convenient for families to attend
clinics to learn about how to use booster seats and child seats correctly, and
answer their questions.  Ford's resources will make it easier to get the job
done."
    In addition to the state grant program, Ford's Boost America! campaign
will include a massive education effort reaching out to pre-school and
elementary schools, as well as the distribution of one million booster seats
over a year-long period.
    Additional information on Boost America! is available at the campaign's

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