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Ad campaign focuses on getting ‘tweens’ buckled up

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A first of its kind campaign starts Thursday, to get kids of a certain age group to buckle up.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is focusing for the first time on an ad campaign for tweens.

Their latest ad campaign slogan is, ‘Never Give Up, Until They Buckle Up.’

Tweens are considered kids ages 8 through 14. It’s typically a transition age: some are still using booster seats, and others are tall enough to use a seat belt and buckle up themselves.

The NHTSA says national statistics show from 2009 to 2013, nearly half of tweens who died traveling in passenger vehicles were not wearing seat belts. Stats show that increases as kids get closer to ages 13 and 14.

Dr. Joseph O’Neil, a neuro-developmental pediatrician and co-medical director of the Automotive Safety Program at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, says even though these children are getting older, adults need to double-check every time to make sure their tweens are buckled up correctly. He points out, according to a report from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute based on Indiana traffic accidents in 2013, an estimated 83 percent of children between 8 and 14 years old wore seat belts, compared to 92 percent of children between 1 and 3 years old and an estimated 94 percent of children less than a year old.

Why is that?

The NHTSA says on their website, it’s for a number of reasons. Perhaps parents aren’t wearing them, or maybe kids are preoccupied or distracted with electronic devices or food. Maybe kids aren’t comfortable if they were moved from a booster seat to a regular seat too soon. Maybe they think “it’s just a short trip” and secretly choose not to put the seat belt on. Maybe it’s nighttime and they feel like parents can’t see what they’re doing.

So what do parents need to remember?

Be a good role model: wear your own seat belt. Never give up until they buckle up, and never assume they’re buckled: double-check even through age 14.

Also – experts say all kids under 13 should sit in the backseat at all times.

The NHTSA has put much more information for parents here, on this new website.

They’re also hosting a Twitter chat Thursday afternoon from 3-4 p.m. Follow along using hashtags #kidsbuckleup and #tweens.

Below, find more information from Dr. O’Neil with Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health on when your child is big enough to use an adult seat belt.

Size issues. The typical 8-year-old isn’t big enough for an adult seat belt. In order to use an adult seat belt, a few conditions need to be met:

  • The child’s legs need to extend beyond the bench part of the seat.
  • The lap/shoulder belt needs to go to the shoulder cap to the hips where the lap belt can lay flat across the hips and stay there for the entire ride. If these conditions cannot be met, the child should be in a booster seat.