By Troy Wells
For the past several years I have been passionately involved with child passenger safety. My name is Norraine Wingfield, and I work at the Kansas Traffic Safety Resource Office. For those of you who are history buffs and work in traffic safety, please enjoy this brief look into the past.
Imagine for a second what a severe injury from a car crash would do for your child. Damage to the brain could lead to many problems, such as memory impairment, educational or I.Q. dysfunction, or even the loss of the ability to read and write.
It’s a horrific thought.
It was this thinking, however, that brought about the single greatest development in child safety in the last century. The child safety seat was developed over 50 years ago as a means to combat the staggering damage children can receive in the event of a car crash.
The first instance of a child restraint in a vehicle was in 1898. This early device was little more than a bag with a drawstring that could attach to the car seat.
It wasn’t until the 1930s car designers came up with a working model of a child car seat. These child seats from the ‘30s did exactly what their predecessors did--they kept a child sitting in the back of the car. During this time, safety belts were becoming commonplace in vehicles, as were other safety devices meant to stem the tide of traffic fatalities.
Unfortunately, it would be another 30 years before anything serious would be done about it.
Peace, love, and car seats took place in the 1960s when Swedish auto designers finally began to seriously address the problem of child safety in cars. They developed the first rear-facing child safety seat designed to prevent an infant from being injured in an auto accident.
It took several years and extensive testing, but in the end they had developed what is probably the most important safety feature to ever be added to a vehicle.
When safety seats hit the market in the mid-1960s, they bombed. The only people who bought them were a minority of only the most safety-conscious parents. The problem was people just didn’t know enough about them, and it seemed like a useless expense.
This forced safety seat manufacturers to take a different route. In this case, education would be the off-ramp of success.
In the 1970s, members of the medical community, consumer groups, safety seat manufacturers, and insurance companies among others got together and showed the general public safety seats for children were a necessary device for keeping their children alive in the case of a collision.
They also managed to convince various levels of governments, and some states started passing laws requiring the use of safety seats for young children. Tennessee was the first state to do so, and between 1978 and 1985 every single state was to follow suit.
Seat designers are using space-age polymers and designs to make child safety seats safer than ever before. It looks as though child safety seats are strapping in...;and they’re ready for a long ride.
(Bill Schnarr, HistoryOf.net, 9-10-2008)
By Mark Parkinson
Kansans will travel nearly 81 million miles today on our state’s roadways. That’s 81 million miles for Kansans to go to and from work, for our kids to go to school, for visitors to come through our state and for everyone to do all the normal activities that make up our daily lives--all in one day.
But to reach our destination, safety must be our top priority. I am proud to kick off the Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day campaign to remind Kansans of just that. For the next four weeks Kansans throughout the state will blog about why safety is so important. Some of these bloggers are safety professionals and will provide tips while some have personal experiences to share in hopes of helping others. But all of these people have a common goal--reducing fatalities on our roadways.
Traveling is such an integral part of our lives. It keeps us connected and we count on our transportation infrastructure to get us where we need to be efficiently and safely. We also count on policies and law enforcement to help protect us from other drivers who may not be traveling as safely as ourselves.
This past legislative session, I was proud to sign into law multiple pieces of legislation that make our roads safer, including a primary seat belt law and a ban against texting while driving. I also signed the new ten-year transportation plan to keep Kansas roads the best in the country.
But these steps don’t relieve us from our personal responsibility to travel safely. One of the main messages of Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day is to drive as if your life depends on it. This is something we need to think about every time we get into a car or truck.
As you read these blogs for the next 20 days, I hope you’ll take the time to comment on what you have read. We need to continue to share our ideas and information with one another, as we are also sharing a vision of a day with no roadway fatalities in Kansas and our nation.