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July 26, 2001

Ryan Signs Legislation Strengthening the Childhood Passenger Protection Act - Governor joins Ford Motor Company in the Boost America! campaign

CHICAGO -- Governor Ryan today signed Senate Bill 98 that requires drivers to have all passengers under 16 (currently 6) in seat belts or restraint systems and Senate Bill 403 that increases the maximum fine for a violation of the Child Passenger Protection Act to $50.

The Governor signed Senate bills 98 and 403 at the Illinois kickoff of "Boost America!" an initiative of the Ford Motor Company. Boost America! supports child booster seat programs throughout the United States and provides booster seats for families with children age 4-8 (weighing 40-80 pounds) with free installation by certified technicians.

"Too often, parents believe they've protected their children by putting them in child safety seats that aren't properly installed or by using adult-sized seatbelts when the children are still too small," said Governor Ryan. "An improperly installed seat is just as dangerous as no seat at all."

The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), SAFE KIDS, Illinois State Police and other agencies with trained Child Safety Seat Technicians are currently recommending booster seats for children up to 80 pounds. Booster seats are currently available through promotions like Boost America!, the SAFE KIDS, Illinois Health and Wellness Initiative and the IDOT Safety Seat Loaner Education Program.

Both pieces of legislation strengthen the Illinois Childhood Passenger Protection Act and as a result, Illinois may be eligible for additional federal funding to support safety belt and child safety seat programs. In the last two years, Illinois has received $900,000 in federal funds for these programs.

SB 98 amends the Child Passenger Protection Act to require that every person transporting a child between the ages of 4 and 16 is responsible for securing the child in a child restraint system or seat belts. State law already requires children under six to be properly restrained. SB 403 increases the maximum fine for a violation of the Child Passenger Protection Act from $25 to $50, and increases the maximum fine for a subsequent violation from $50 to $100.

The origin of SB 98 stems from a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for children age 6 to 14 years, which can be partly attributed to the fact that most children are unbuckled or improperly restrained in vehicles. Statistics show that restraint use for children from birth to 1 year is 97 percent; 91 percent for children age 1 to 4 years, but the percentage drops significantly to 68.7 percent for ages 5 to 15.

When the Child Passenger Protection Act was originally proposed, it was designed to encourage parents to purchase safety seats by aligning the fine with the approximate cost of a child safety seat. If parents could show proof of purchasing a safety seat, the fine would be waived. While the cost of seats has at least doubled since the early 1980's, the fine had not been proportionately adjusted.

Boost America! is working with the United Way to distribute 500,000 booster seats to needy families, and is also providing 500,000 vouchers for booster seats to Ford Motor Company customers that can be redeemed at Toys "R" Us. In addition to giving away one million booster seats, Ford Motor Company has also created a school curriculum for children in kindergarten through second grade that features Blue from Blue's Clues and a video featuring actors Will and Jada Pinkett Smith.


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