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August 11, 2007

Gov. Blagojevich announces child safety seat check effort at the Illinois State Fairgrounds
Several agencies join forces to educate parents on proper safety seat use to keep kids safe

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that state, corporate and community leaders are teaming up to promote the proper use of child safety seats during a large-scale Child Seat Safety Check at the Illinois State Fair. In 2003, the Governor signed a law requiring all children up to age eight to be properly secured in a safety seat. Today, to ensure all child safety seats are installed properly, over 40 certified child passenger safety technicians from around the state will check child safety seats from 9:00 a.m. to noon inside gates 6& 7 on the Fairgrounds.
“Our number one priority as parents and caregivers is to ensure our kids are safe. In 2003, we toughened our child safety law and required that every child traveling in a car up to eight years old be secured in a safety seat. But we also have to help make sure those seats are properly installed and the child is correctly buckled up. I want to recognize state leaders and our community and corporate partners for stepping up in this effort,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
Motor vehicle crashes still remain the number one killer of children ages 4 to 14 in America.  Illinois is working hard to change this statistic.  This is the first joint-effort of its kind as the Illinois Secretary of State, the Illinois Department of Transportation-Division of Traffic Safety, the Illinois State Police, and the State’s departments of Public Health, Human Services and Children and Family Services take a stand against the number one killer of children.
“Everyday, five of our children are killed and another 640 are injured on our roads.  Child safety seats, booster seats and other restraints are a proven way to keep our children safe and an inexpensive investment on their future,” Secretary of State Jesse White said. 
While 98 percent of America’s infants and 93 percent of children ages 1 to 3 are now regularly restrained, not enough children ages 4 through 7 are restrained properly for their size and age.
Children ages 4 to 8 who use booster seats are 59 percent less likely to be injured in a car crash than children who are restrained only by a safety belt, according to a study by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“Anytime you get behind the wheel of a car with children in it, you should have the peace of mind knowing they are properly secured in a car seat and that the seat is installed correctly,” said Acting IDOT Secretary Milt Sees. “All it takes is a few extra moments to do this. And if anyone has any doubts about whether they are using a child safety seat properly, now is the time to take advantage of this complimentary service.”

Gov. Blagojevich has made traffic safety a top priority for his administration and has actively supported legislation to reduce fatalities on our state’s highways. 2006 was the safest year on Illinois roadways in more than 80 years as traffic fatality numbers dropped below 1,300 for the first time since 1924. The dramatic reduction in fatalities over the last four years is due in large part to the Governor’s signing of the primary seat belt enforcement, which allows police to pull over a driver simply for not wearing a seat belt.
Children ages 4 through 7 are generally too small for adult safety belts and need a “boost” to ensure the safety belt will fit securely across their chests and low across the upper thighs – to help prevent internal injuries, neck, head and spinal injuries, and even ejection and death in the event of a crash.
Parents are encouraged to bring their child and their vehicle to the Illinois State Fair Child Safety Seat Check on Saturday, August 11, 2007 between 9:00 a.m. and 12 noon.  The safety seat check will be held between Gates 6 and 7.   Parents will have to pay admission to get into the Illinois State Fair at Gates 6 or 7, and then they can have their child safety seats checked for free.  Admission to the fair is $3 for adults and $2 for seniors, and children 12 and under are free.  Corporate sponsors of the event include Evenflo, Ford, AAA Chicago, Hertz Rental Cars, Clear Channel Radio and Kick’s Food, Family and Fun. 
For maximum child passenger safety, parents and caregivers simply need to remember and follow the 4 Steps for Kids:
1)  For the best possible protection keep infants in the back seat, in rear-facing child safety seats, as long as possible up to the height or weight limit of the particular seat.  At a minimum, keep infants rear-facing until a minimum of age 1 and at least 20 pounds.
2)  When children outgrow their rear-facing seats (at a minimum age of 1 and at least 20 pounds) they should ride in forward-facing child safety seats, in the back seat, until they reach the upper weight or height limit of the particular seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds).
3)  Once children outgrow their forward-facing seat (usually around age 4 and 40 pounds), they should ride in booster seats, in the back seat, until the vehicle safety belts fit properly.  Safety belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt fits across the chest (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall).
4)  When children outgrow their booster seats, (usually at age 8 or when they are 4’9” tall) they can use the adult safety belt in the back seat, if it fits properly (lap belt lays across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt across the chest). 
For more information about child passenger safety and the proper use of booster seats, please visit www.buckleupillinois.org or www.cyberdriveillinois.com.


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