Davis County residents who buckle seat belts and strap the kiddies into child safety seats can do more than save their lives; they may also earn a meal.
The Davis County health and sheriff's departments are cooperating July 11-15 in the "I Pledge to Buckle Up" campaign to encourage the use of seat belts by children and adults and child safety seats for infants.The campaign is being held on the fourth anniversary of the implementation of Utah's child car seat law, requiring that infants be carried in safety seats in vehicles.
During the campaign, parents can sign pledge cards promising to wear seat belts and use safety seats. The cards, when turned in, are exchanged for gift certificates good for a "Happy Meal" at a participating Davis County McDonald's restaurant.
The pledge cards will be available at the health department immunization, well-child, and Women-Infant-Children's clinics as well as at licensed pre-school and day-care centers.
Sheriff's department deputy/paramedic teams will also be watching vehicles as they patrol the county, looking for drivers both complying with and violating the seatbelt and infant restraint laws.
Deputies may stop a vehicle in which they see the driver and occupants complying with the law, awarding them a gift certificate, or they may stop vehicles not in compliance. On those stops, the driver has the option of signing a citation or a pledge card.
All pledge cards turned in to participating restaurants will be returned to the health department, where a drawing for 38 gifts donated by local merchants will be conducted on July 22.
According to health department spokesman Brad Neiger, a recent survey through Utah shows that only 31 percent of children under 5 years old were either belted in or riding in an approved safety seat.
Although low, that is an improvement over the low of 14 percent in 1984, and compliance is getting better every year, he said.
The survey also showed that in vehicles where the driver was using a seat belt, 56 percent of the children were either in a safety seat or using seat belts.
That is contrasted with only 16 percent of the children being restrained in vehicles where drivers were not wearing their seat belts, the survey showed.
Those figures, according to the health department, are one reason dual emphasis is being put on adults wearing seat belts and infants and children wearing belts or being carried in restraint seats.
Neiger said statistics show riding in a vehicle is the most serious danger young children face in the U.S., causing more deaths (700 annually) and injuries (70,000 last year) than any other type of accident or illness.
"Fortunately," Neiger said, "this threat to the health of our children can be minimized very easily and quickly simply by protecting children with appropriate child car safety seats or seat belts."