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Sesame Street and Ford Kick Off 1998 'Buckle Up With Sesame Street' National Safety Tour

3 January 1998

Sesame Street and Ford Kick Off 1998 'Buckle Up With Sesame Street' National Safety Tour

    DEARBORN, Mich., Jan. 3 -- Today, Ford Motor Company
and Children's Television Workshop (CTW) announce their
1998 national multi-city safety tour designed to teach children and parents
safe seating techniques and the importance of wearing safety belts.  The
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that
80 percent of children are improperly restrained when they ride in cars and
    Elmo, Rosita and Telly Monster will travel to cities across the United
States to bring this fun and educational bilingual presentation to the public.
"Buckle Up With Sesame Street" is one part of the three-year alliance between
Ford and CTW, the producers of Sesame Street, to deliver automotive safety
messages to children and parents in English and Spanish.
    The safety tour kicks off Friday, Jan. 2 with a press conference at
11:00 A.M., followed by free public performances on Jan. 2, 3 and 4 at the
Fairlane Town Center in Dearborn.  The show will also be presented to the
public at the Detroit North American International Auto Show and the Charity
    Following the Detroit national kick off, "Buckle Up With Sesame Street"
will travel to community centers, malls and auto shows in 15 major cities
throughout the United States, including New York, Chicago, Washington D.C. and
Los Angeles.  Certified nurses trained in child safety will teach safe seating
techniques and provide detailed child passenger safety seat demonstrations
after each "Buckle Up With Sesame Street" presentation.  Emergency Nurses
CARE, a multi-faceted organization dealing with many aspects of injury
prevention, has partnered with Ford to provide this service.
    "Ford believes it has a major responsibility to educate children and
parents about automotive safety," said Helen Petrauskas, Ford Motor Company
vice president, Environmental & Safety Engineering.  "Buckle Up With Sesame
Street" brings a safe riding and driving message so appealing that children
and parents can't help but remember our songs about automotive safety."
    "Buckle Up With Sesame Street" will emphasize these key safety messages:

    -- Always wear a safety belt while driving or riding in a car or truck.
    -- Children are safest properly restrained in the back seat.
    -- Use approved child safety seats for children weighing less than
       40 pounds.
    -- Children between 4 and 11 years of age and weighing between 40 and
       90 pounds should use a booster cushion to help position the safety belt
       across the shoulder and hips.
    -- Rear-facing child seats always should be placed in the back seat of
       vehicles or in the front seat of trucks equipped with the passenger air
       bag switch in the "off" position.
    -- Seats should be moved as far back as possible from air bags.

    Educating parents and children will help reduce auto-related injuries and
    Facts highlighting the need for safety education are:

    -- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children from
    -- Currently, 49 children have been killed by an inflating air bag while
       riding in the front seat of a vehicle.  Almost all were not properly
    -- Child safety seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 69 percent for
       infants and by 47 percent for toddlers.
    -- Increasing safety belt usage and having children properly restrained in
       the back seat is the most effective way to save U.S. lives.

    The three-year auto safety campaign is expected to reach millions of U.S.
families through print and broadcast media materials, distributed in both
English and Spanish, along with live character appearances.
    The Ford Windstar was chosen to help deliver automotive safety messages
because it is equipped with more than 40 standard safety features and earned
the five-star federal government crash-test rating for providing the best
protection of any minivan.  Windstar is the only minivan to receive this
    The campaign includes television advertising for the 1998 Ford Windstar
with Sesame Street characters delivering safety messages; custom published
magazines delivered to over 2.6 million homes along with the Sesame Street
Parents magazine; a safety content area on the Sesame Street web site; print
and television public service announcements; and safety advice materials for
children and parents distributed through Ford dealerships.
    "Helping children and families learn how to take safety measures in cars
-- simple measures like buckling up and putting kids in the back seat -- is in
keeping with a long tradition of Sesame Street, a place children love and
trust," said David Britt, CTW president and CEO.  "We're proud to have the
opportunity to help and to deliver life-saving messages with Ford -- teaching
kids how to take steps to respond safely in what can be scary situations."
    The combination of Ford and Sesame Street is a natural.  CTW is the
world's leader in educating and entertaining children, having reached more
than 120 million children in more than 130 countries.  It is estimated that
96 percent of all American children have seen Sesame Street by the age of
3.  Sesame Street has a long history of celebrating cultural diversity and
encouraging young children to learn more about their heritage.

SOURCE  Ford Motor Company and Children's Television Workshop