February 10, 2003

With motor vehicle crashes now the leading cause of death among Hispanics, ages 1-44, a Spanish language campaign was introduced March 6 to increase awareness of highway safety issues. The campaign, "Corazon de mi vida," was developed by the National Latino Children's Institute (NLCI) and is funded by Nationwide Insurance and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

According to NHTSA, at highest risk are Hispanic children ages 5-12, who are 72 percent more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than non-Hispanic children. Determined to reduce those tragic deaths, the agency will include a bilingual component in this year's National Child Passenger Safety campaign to inform families, childcare providers and the Spanish-speaking community about child passenger safety.

"Nationwide Insurance is proud to be a provider of funds for this program because we have a long-standing corporate commitment to traffic safety that encompasses research, education, and communication. This program has given Nationwide yet another means of expanding our outreach and of continuing our efforts in automobile and traffic safety in the Latino community," said Marco Capalino, director of Markets Development. "This will be our sixth visit to the state of Texas."

The goal of "Corazon de mi vida," or "You Are the Center of My Life," is to make buckling up a habit for Latino parents and their children. "Buckling up is a habit that builds on the parents' love for their children. This campaign encourages parents to become more active partners in keeping their children safe," said Rebeca Barrera, President of NLCI. "This is the third year of our campaign, and now we are happy to bring it to Houston."

"NHTSA's Hispanic initiatives focus on the correct use of child safety seats and seat belts, pedestrian safety, and the prevention of impaired driving," said NHTSA Administrator Dr. Jeffrey Runge. "As the Hispanic community grows, the non-use or misuse of child safety seats emerges as a greater public health issue." He added. "Child seats and seat belts are the most effective safety devices available and, in the strongest way possible. I urge everyone to buckle up on every trip."

Richard Cantu from Mayor Brown's office and Laura Pascoe from the Harris County Sheriff's office attended the event. State Trooper John Sampa of the Texas Department of Public Safety shared a story of a child who was killed because the safety seat was improperly installed. John Thrasher, Texas State Sales Officer, responsible for Nationwide Texas Operations, also attended the Houston kick-off event to support the campaign and speak to parents concerned about their children's safety.

The event provided statistics documenting rates of traffic death and injury among Hispanics. Testimonials, endorsements, a preview of the "Corazon de mi Vida" bilingual awareness campaign, and demonstrations on the proper use of child passenger seats were featured. After the press conference, NLCI, Nationwide, and AVANCE Inc. will hold a "charla," a workshop with Hispanic parents to discuss the best ways to protect their children.

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