Traffic safety campaign targets kids

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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and popular animated series “Chuggington” announced a new partnership to teach children how to be safe in and around cars. The nationwide traffic safety campaign is geared specifically toward children from the ages of 2 to 7 and includes a public service announcement featuring characters from the show, a kid-focused safety pledge and downloadable tips and activities for parents and caregivers to use with children.

“This exciting partnership with ‘Chuggington’ will help us bring our traffic safety message to young children and parents alike,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Educating children at an early age about the importance of wearing bicycle helmets, looking both ways when crossing the street and buckling up leads to a lifetime of good traffic safety habits.”

Motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for children, with 1,314 fatalities and 179,000 injuries to those 14 and younger in 2009. In 2007, an estimated 262 fatalities and 115,000 injuries to children 14 and younger occurred from pedestrian incidents involving children playing in or around motor vehicles. The new partnership combines NHTSA’s safety guidelines for pedestrians, school buses, bikes and car seat use with Chuggington’s characters to reach parents and children.

“ ‘Chuggington’s’ characters learn important life lessons in every episode of the show and often earn badges as rewards for appropriate behavior,” says Dick Rothkopf, chairman of Ludorum, the creators of the show. “The ‘Think Safe, Ride Safe, Be Safe!’ traffic safety pledge and badge is based on this concept. We hope that children will be excited to learn the rules of the road while they interact with ‘Chuggington’s’ characters and earn their official ‘Chuggington’ Traffic Safety badges.”

The announcement coincides with National Child Passenger Safety Week and comes on the heels of a recent survey by Safe Kids USA showing there’s still room for improvement for parents installing child safety seats. Earlier this year, NHTSA released revised guidelines encouraging parents to keep their children in rear-facing child seats as long as possible up to the height and weight specifications of the seat.

“We already know that child seats save lives and help keep our kids safe, but parents and caregivers need to know how to properly install and use them,” says NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “That’s why, together with our safety partners, we encourage parents to choose the right seat for their child’s size and weight and to have it checked at one of the thousands of free safety seat inspection stations set up across the country for National Seat Check Saturday.”