Program Tries to Get Minority Kids Buckled Up
It’s long been a challenge for road safety advocates: how to increase the use of child safety restraints and seat belts among African-Americans and Hispanics.
“Buckle Up for Life” – a seat belt safety program founded at Cincinnati Children’s is helping make a dent in the problem. The program works through churches to overcome cultural, educational and economic barriers to restraint use by minorities.
Dr. Victor Garcia, director of trauma services at Cincinnati Children’s, helped start the safety campaign in 2004. Like other trauma center physicians, he noticed the number of Hispanic and African-American patients needing care after being in accidents in which they were not wearing seat belts.
The six-week program – in partnership with Toyota – teaches parents about the consequences of not restraining their children. They get free car seats, and experts help install them properly. Restraint usage at Cincinnati-area churches jumped significantly after the program was implemented, according to studies by Cincinnati Children’s and Toyota.
The program is offered in churches in Cincinnati, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Houston and Las Vegas, and there are plans to expand this year to Philadelphia and Orange County, Calif., and to other cities next year. More than 45,000 people have completed the program, and more than 20,000 child seats have been distributed.