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KDOT to Launch Seat Belt Billboard Campaign


Jan. 17, 2003

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (03-005)

For more information, contact:
Rosalie Thornburgh or Pati Pomeroy
KDOT Bureau of Traffic Safety: (785) 296-3756

Year-Long Program Targets Unbuckled Children

A campaign designed to increase safety belt use among Kansans, particularly children, is coming to a billboard near you, wherever you may live in the state.

The Bureau of Traffic Safety of the Kansas Department of Transportation will embark on a statewide, year-long outdoor advertising campaign beginning this month.

The campaign will be aimed at parents and adult drivers and will encourage that audience to ensure that their passengers, particularly children, are buckled up. Children, age 4-14 in Kansas have the lowest seatbelt use rate of any age group, only 52 percent in 2001, compared to adults at a 61 percent rate and children under age 4 at 92 percent.

“Billboards allow us to reach a large audience and target drivers in high population areas,” said Rosalie Thornburgh, chief of KDOT’s Bureau of Traffic Safety. “These signs will remind adults as they’re driving to ensure their children are buckled up at all times. Letting children ride without seat belts is a risk that’s just not worth taking.”

The distinctive KDOT billboards will feature a text box containing white letters against a red background. Text boxes in some cases will be superimposed on images. Text boxes will rotate so that different messages appear on the same billboard over the course of the year.

The messages include: “Buckle up your kids or it may haunt you the rest of your life;” “You’d strap down any precious cargo wouldn’t you;” “A sudden stop and your unbuckled toddler becomes a 35-pound missile;” “What’s going to stop your kid if he doesn’t wear a seat belt;” and “#1 cause of death for toddlers: parents didn’t buckle them in.”

Thornburgh said increasing seat belt usage in Kansas is a top priority of the Bureau of Traffic Safety. That’s especially the case where child passengers are concerned.

“The irony here is that Kansas law requires all children under 14 to wear seat belts,” Thornburgh said. “Roadside billboards will encourage all drivers to make sure everyone in the vehicle is clicking their seat belts.”

An observational seat belt survey conducted by KDOT in the summer of 2002 showed that 64 percent of passenger car drivers, 66 percent of van drivers, and 64 percent of SUV drivers were buckled up. Only 42 percent of pick up truck drivers were using seat belts during the observational survey.

Rates for passengers are similar. According to the survey, 62 percent of automobile passengers, 71 percent of van passengers, 66 percent of SUV passengers, and 47 percent of pick-up passengers were buckled up.

“While those numbers have improved over the years, we still find that compliance rate too low,” Thornburgh said. “When you have about 40 percent of Kansans not buckling up, that means we are going to continue to see injuries and deaths that could have been prevented.”

Federal funds specifically targeting occupant protection will be used to support the campaign.

Samples of the billboards can be found on the Public Service Announcements page.

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KDOT is a member of the Governor’s Substance Abuse Prevention Council united in the vision that Kansas communities become places where all children are safe, protected, nurtured, and supported in reaching their fullest potential.