The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) was awarded a grant totaling more than $365,000 from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) to support the coordination of child passenger safety (CPS) educational and training programs.
Under this grant, CDPH will undertake several programs aimed at saving the lives of children riding in vehicles, including strengthening essential partnerships that link state and local policy, enforcement, and educational efforts to increase proper child restraint use from birth through booster seat age (0-8 years) and training public health, public safety, and health services providers as CPS Technicians and Instructors under the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s CPS Certification Program. They will also provide educational and program resources, technical assistance, research, and professional development opportunities, as well as facilitate communication among child passenger safety coordinators at local health departments, community-based organizations, hospital and trauma centers, and public safety offices.
The grant calls for CDPH to secure CPS citation and conviction data for each county to encourage appropriate local dispensation of CPS violations by traffic courts and promote the development of local child passenger safety violator education programs. They will also develop and implement a statewide program to educate and prepare child transporters in State sponsored social service programs (e.g. Foster Care) to appropriate and safely transport children.
“After steady increases, the rate at which children are properly secured in cars dropped this year,” said Christopher J. Murphy, director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. “Through the work of the California Department of Public Health, we aim to turn that around, so that more children are protected in cars.”
In 2008, a total of 3,894 children between birth and eight years of age were injured as a result of a vehicle crash in California. In the same time frame, an additional 35 families suffered the loss of a child due to a crash. Among those who were killed, two-thirds were not using any type of child safety restraint. This fact underscores the critical need to educate parents and caregivers on the basics of child passenger safety. For example, a recent study showed that children through the age of two are five times safer when they ride rear-facing in an appropriate child safety seat (CSS).
Parents are still unclear on other fundamentals such as transitioning the toddler to a forward-facing CSS until he or she graduates into a booster seat; and then keeping the child in that booster seat until the child reaches a height of 4’9. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration continue to advocate that the safest place for all children 12 and younger is in the back seat.
Child occupant deaths are largely preventable. CDPH builds on complementary age-appropriate engineering, enforcement, and educational strategies to diminish risks and motivate drivers to protect their children on every ride.
Funding for this program was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.