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‘Love Me? Buckle Me!’ bus banners advocate safety

MEDIA RELEASE

Each year, hundreds of young children nationwide – including children on the Island of Hawaii – are killed or injured in vehicle crashes.

However, statistics show the correct use of car safety seats and seat belts is one of the best ways to keep keiki passengers safe and prevent serious injury if a crash should occur.

In response to these statistics, Baby STEPS to Stronger Big Island Families has partnered with the county to build public awareness of the importance of securing children appropriately while riding in vehicles.

One result of this partnership is the creation of banners which will be displayed in all of the County’s Hele-On buses. At present, there are 50 Hele-On buses operating around Hawaii Island and an estimated 1.2 million passengers boarded these buses in 2010-2011.

“Our keiki are precious; they represent our future and we owe it to them to keep them safe,” Mayor Billy Kenoi said. “I hope these banners will remind our residents to buckle up when they drive and to make sure their passengers are also correctly secured.”

State law requires all children under the age of four to be secured in a car seat; children between the ages of 4 and 8 are to be secured in booster seats. Older children must be secured in a seat belt and it is recommended that they sit in the back seat of the vehicle.

“Education regarding these laws is extremely important,” said Angela Thomas, coordinator for Baby STEPS.

Each year in September, the County of Hawaii and Baby STEPS join forces during National Child Passenger Safety Week, producing radio ad campaigns and car seat safety checks to strengthen the “Love Me? Buckle Me!” message.

“Although many parents are using car seats and booster seats for their children, nine out of 10 seats are not properly installed,” Thomas said. “One of the goals of this partnership is to create meaningful ways to remind residents to be responsible and caring, especially for our youngest citizens.”

An anonymous car seat hotline (961-2226) exists to report sightings of children who are not properly secured in a vehicle.

Callers should be prepared to provide a license plate number, car make / model / color, the date and location of the car. A letter will then be sent to the vehicle owner about the violation.

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