Texas Children's Hospital And Toyota Expand National Safety Program To Houston To Address Significantly Higher Risks Faced By African American And Hispanic Children In Motor Vehicle Crashes

Jul 18, 2012, 06:00 ET from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

"Buckle Up for Life" is the first national program of its kind – nearly tripled the number of children in seatbelts and car seats in program pilot

HOUSTON, July 18, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Responding to disproportionate risks that African American and Hispanic children face in motor vehicle-related crashes, Texas Children's Hospital, Toyota and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center today announced that they are bringing the groundbreaking safety education program Buckle Up for Life to Houston.  Buckle Up for Life – or Abrochate a la Vida in Spanish is the only national program of its kind.  This is the first time the program will be available in Houston.  To view a video about Buckle Up for Life, please click here.

Research analyzed by medical experts at Cincinnati Children's shows that African American and Hispanic children are more likely than other children to die in motor vehicle crashes.  Studies also show that, due to multiple factors, African American and Hispanic children are significantly less likely than non-African American and non-Hispanic children to be buckled up in seat belts or car seats.

Key facts

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children in the U.S. between the ages of 1 and 12.[i] 
  • The leading cause of fatal unintentional injury in 2009 at Texas Children's Hospital was motor vehicle crashes.[ii]  In addition, motor vehicle crashes were responsible for 53 percent of all unintentional child deaths in the Houston/Harris County area between 2006 and 2007.[iii]
  • Three out of every four car seats in the U.S. are not used or installed correctly[iv] and almost 50 percent of fatally injured children across the country were unrestrained at the time of a crash.[v]
  • In crashes involving fatalities in children under age 14 nationally, seat belt use was lower among African Americans than among all other race or ethnic groups.[vi]
  • Hispanic children are significantly less likely to be buckled up than non-Hispanic children across all age groups.[vii]

In one pilot city, Buckle Up for Life nearly tripled the number of children properly restrained in seat belts and car seats among the families who participated. [viii]  The program was founded and is jointly led by Cincinnati Children's and Toyota, in coordination with local hospital partners such as Texas Children's Hospital.

Toyota and local hospital partners are doubling the reach of Buckle Up for Life

The expansion of Buckle Up for Life to Houston is part of an effort by Toyota and Cincinnati Children's to double the program's reach.  The new partnership with Texas Children's Hospital joins other new Buckle Up for Life programs in Las Vegas, Philadelphia and Orange County, CA.  Buckle Up for Life programs are already in place with local hospital partners in Chicago, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and San Antonio.

"Years ago, a mother who was involved in a car crash in which her child died said something to me that to this day haunts me but also inspires me, 'If I only knew,'" said Dr. Victor Garcia, co-founder of Buckle Up for Life and the founding director of Trauma Services and professor of pediatric surgery at Cincinnati Children's.  "The number of African American and Hispanic children dying unnecessarily in motor vehicle-related crashes is alarming, something I see firsthand in my work as a trauma surgeon.  This is a public health emergency that can be avoided and needs to be addressed, and it is clear that safety education and access to proper car seats can make a major difference."

"Toyota's generosity will extend our injury prevention capabilities, allowing us to continue providing patients and families with the unparalleled pediatric care Texas Children's is known for," said Mary Frost, assistant director, Trauma Services and the Center for Childhood Injury Prevention at Texas Children's Hospital.

"At Toyota, we are strongly committed to the belief that everyone deserves to be safe," said Patricia Salas Pineda, group vice president of National Philanthropy and the Toyota USA Foundation at Toyota Motor North America.  "Through our educational outreach and partnerships with leading hospitals, nonprofits and research universities nationwide, Toyota is engaged extensively in programs that help ensure that drivers and passengers are safe at every stage of life.  Buckle Up for Life is a vital commitment for Toyota, and we are proud to be working with these great medical centers to expand its reach."

"As a company with deep roots in Houston and a commitment to auto safety across the region, we are thrilled that Texas Children's Hospital has teamed up with Toyota and Cincinnati Children's to bring Buckle Up for Life to our city," said Marc Watts, president of the Friedkin Group, whose companies include Houston-based regional auto distributor Gulf States Toyota.  "Gulf States Toyota looks forward to supporting these efforts, which are so critical to our local community."

Toyota's support for Buckle Up for Life is part of the company's ongoing commitment to help make local communities safer and stronger.  The company has contributed more than half-a-billion dollars to nonprofits throughout the U.S. over the past 20 years. 

About Buckle Up for Life/Abrochate a la Vida

Buckle Up for Life, or Abrochate a la Vida, is a national, community-based injury prevention initiative supporting the African American and Hispanic communities.  Working with local hospitals and churches, Buckle Up for Life addresses the economic, cultural and, where appropriate, language barriers to motor vehicle safety. 

Over a six-week period, the program's medical experts and trained injury prevention specialists work closely with participants of all ages to deliver vital safety information in an engaging, culturally sensitive and memorable way.  Participants are eligible to receive free car seats, and they are matched with certified child passenger safety technicians to help install these car seats and ensure that children are properly restrained.

Buckle Up for Life, which began in 2004, was developed jointly by trauma specialists at Cincinnati Children's and vehicle safety experts at Toyota.  National expansion of the program has been sponsored by Toyota.  Additional information is available at www.buckleupforlife.org.

About Texas Children's Hospital
Texas Children's Hospital, a not-for-profit organization, is committed to creating a community of healthy children through excellence in patient care, education and research.  Consistently ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation, Texas Children's has recognized Centers of Excellence in multiple pediatric subspecialties including the Cancer and Heart Centers, and operates the largest primary pediatric care network in the country.  Texas Children's has completed a $1.5 billion expansion, which includes the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute; Texas Children's Pavilion for Women, a comprehensive obstetrics/gynecology facility focusing on high-risk births; and Texas Children's Hospital West Campus, a community hospital in suburban West Houston.  For more information on Texas Children's, go to www.texaschildrens.org.  Get the latest news from Texas Children's by visiting the online newsroom and on Twitter at twitter.com/texaschildrens.

About Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S. News and World Report's 2012 Best Children's Hospitals ranking.  It is ranked #1 for neonatology and in the top 10 for all pediatric specialties, ranking in the top 5 in 9 out of 10 specialties ranked. Cincinnati Children's is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health. It is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at www.cincinnatichildrens.org.

About Toyota
Toyota established operations in the United States in 1957 and currently operates 10 manufacturing plants and has a network of nearly 1,500 dealerships.  Toyota directly employs over 30,000 in the U.S. and its investment here is currently valued at more than $18 billion, including sales and manufacturing operations, research and development, financial services and design.

Toyota is committed to being a good corporate citizen and believes in supporting programs with long-term sustainable results.  Toyota supports numerous organizations across the country, focusing on education, the environment and safety.  Since 1991, Toyota has contributed over half-a-billion dollars to philanthropic programs in the U.S.   For more information on Toyota's commitment to improving communities nationwide, visit http://toyotainaction.com/community or toyota.com/community.

[i] http://www.safercar.gov/parents/CarSeats.htm# 
[ii] http://www.bcm.edu/traumalink/?pmid=20647 
[iii] http://childrenatrisk.org/research/book/ ("Growing Up in Houston: Assessing the Quality of Life of Our Children")
[iv] http://www.nhtsa.gov/Safety/LATCH/ 
[v] http://www.nhtsa.gov/Driving+Safety/Research+&+Evaluation/Motor+Vehicle+Occupant+Protection+Facts+(revised+August+2008)/   
[vi] NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts (2008 Data) -- Research Note
[vii] NHTSA 2009 National Survey of the Use of Booster Seats, Sept. 2010
[viii] Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Buckle Up for Life Results

SOURCE Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center