Primary Children's Medical Center launched a media and public information campaign Thursday to encourage Utahns to put children in safety belts or car seats when driving.
As part of the kick-off, Gov. Norm Bangerter declared Feb. 10-16 "Child Passenger Safety Awareness Week."The yearlong campaign, titled "Hold on to Dear Life," will use emotional television advertisements about children and youthskilled or seriously injured because they weren't wearing seat belts. Some spots will focus on children saved by using a safety restraint.
Officials hope the television ads, along with radio spots, posters, stickers, newsletters and speaking engagements, will motivate adults to buckle up their children in the car. The hospital has enlisted about 30 businesses and associations to participate in the program and send its message to the public.
"We won't let go of our child's hand in a store for fear someone will take him, but we'll readily leave the store and fail to buckle him," said Dr. Michael Matlak at a press conference announcing the campaign.
He said 19,000 children and young adults die in auto accidents each year and that safety restraints would reduce injuries by 80 percent. In his experience of treating several thousand children injured in auto accidents, Matlak said he has seen one child die and "a handful" seriously injured when they wore a seat belt or were in a car seat.
On the other hand, half of those children not restrained in an accident die from injuries within one hour, Matlak said.