"As strong as a mother's love is, it
can't always protect our children from harm. Every year, almost
3,000 children under the age of 16 are killed in car accidents,
nationwide. The vast majority of those children could have been
saved if they were buckled up properly every time they get in a
car," said Gov. Blagojevich, speaking on Sunday to parents at a
safety check site outside McCormick Place in Chicago. "But today --
on Mother's Day -- it's important that we all take a moment to
recognize just how important it is to make sure your children are
safely buckled up."
The consumer safety campaign launched
Sunday is an extension of the governor's ongoing Keep Our Kids Safe
initiative, which partners with other public and private
organizations to help provide car passenger safety equipment and
Since Jan. 1 of this year, Illinois has
had a new child safety seat law on the books. The new law requires
all children age 8 and younger to be properly secured in a child
restraint seat. Infants have to be in a safety seat facing toward
the rear, toddlers should be securely strapped into a seat facing
forward, and older children should be in booster seats that allow
them to use a shoulder harness safely.
To help inform the public, the state of
Illinois and 21st Century Insurance will sponsor a series of safety
inspection and installation fairs across the state, beginning with
the Mother's Day events in Chicago, Rockford and Peoria.
At all three locations, specially
trained and certified technicians inspected and, if necessary,
replaced and installed a new car seat donated by 21st Century. Old,
broken and recalled car seats were replaced free of charge on a
first-come, first-served basis. Parents or guardians were to bring
children and car seats for a proper fitting. The joint initiative
was expected to give away 500 new car seats over the weekend.
Representatives from the Illinois
KidCare program were also on hand to distribute information about
the state's health insurance program for children in low-income
"I know it's customary on Mother's Day
to give Mom jewelry or slippers or flowers. But on this Mother's
Day, for moms all across the state, I think we can do even better.
Because, thanks to this new initiative, we can give them peace of
mind," the governor added.
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The Illinois program is modeled after a
California partnership between 21st Century and the California
Highway Patrol. Since 2002, the California Highway Patrol and 21st
Century have conducted more than 2,000 inspections and given away
more than 1,400 seats to families in need.
"At 21st Century, we pride ourselves on
our commitment to consumer education and safety," said Bruce Marlow,
21st Century president and chief executive officer. "Our safety
programs with the CHP help save lives, and we're committed to
working closely with our Illinois partners to keep our kids safe."
According to the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle accidents are the
leading cause of death for children. Research shows that 96 percent
of parents believe their children are properly buckled in their
safety seats, yet data from actual inspections show that 73 percent
of the children riding in child safety seats are improperly
restrained. What's more, 71 percent of traffic fatalities and 66
percent of injuries could be prevented if every child properly used
appropriate car seats.
In addition to the Mother's Day
campaign, the state will work with 21st Century to display dozens of
traffic safety billboards along highways this summer, reminding
drivers to make sure children are properly secured. During the
Illinois State Fair in Springfield this summer the state will also
promote traffic safety and car seat safety.
partnership with 21st Century will continue throughout summer travel
season, with more safety seat installation events being planned
around Illinois. In addition, 21st Century and Gov. Blagojevich have
published a "Child Safety Seat Parent's Guide" to explain proper
seat installation and use. English and Spanish versions of the guide
can be obtained by contacting the company's corporate headquarters
at 1 (800) 211-SAVE or by visiting
[News release from the