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First Lady Kicks Off North Carolina's Child-Passenger Safety Campaign

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RALEIGH, N.C. — First lady Mary Easley on Monday helped kick off a child-passenger safety effort to help children travel safely on North Carolina roadways.

According to crash data,

many North Carolina children ride unrestrained or incorrectly restrained.

In 2002, at least 25 children under age 16 died in such traffic crashes.

In the first six months of 2003 -- the most current data available -- at least 15 children under age 16 died unrestrained.

"These incidents are tragic in so many ways," Mrs. Easley said during a morning Child Passenger Safety Week event at the RBC Center. "Many of these deaths, and countless more serious injuries, could have been prevented."

To help address this issue, $200,000 worth of safety seats and training will be provided statewide through a

Governor's Highway Safety Program

grant to the Department of Insurance and participating



The seats will be available in a few weeks for a minimal fee to qualified low-income families.

More than 1,400 nationally certified CPS technicians are in North Carolina. For information or a referral to a local technician, call


Eighty-three of those technicians wear the badge of the State Highway Patrol. Colonel Richard Holden said troopers are prepared to help North Carolina families with installation training. They also are ready to cite parents and other responsible drivers for failure to ensure that children are safely restrained.

"Our preferred approach is through public education, but I have directed our troop districts across the state to take a zero-tolerance stand against occupant protection violations," Holden said. "Adults who fail to buckle up -- or who fail to ensure that all children under age 16 are safely restrained -- should expect to get a ticket."

The Wake County SKBU coalition provides training and support to local families, said Jan Parker, chairman of the coalition. The Wake chapter is one of 55 statewide that will participate in the $200,000 grant.

The Wake SKBU will hold an event from noon to 4 p.m. Monday at Southgate Shopping Center to destroy damaged or obsolete safety seats. Since the seats no longer can be guaranteed to protect children, the seats will be crushed to prevent future use.

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