Surveys of 400 African-American and 400 Latino drivers conducted on behalf of Nissan's Quest For Safety child safety seat program, found that parents and caregivers report high levels of car seat awareness and usage for younger children, but report much lower levels of booster seat awareness and usage for older children.
According to the African-American survey:
* Approximately 87 percent of African-American parents are aware of booster seats, however, only 16 percent use the booster seats when transporting children between four to eight years of age.
* Approximately 53 percent of African-American parents did not know booster seats should be used when a child is too small for a vehicle's seat belt, but too big for a child safety seat.
According to the Latino survey:
* Approximately 58 percent of Latino parents with children aged four to eight are aware of booster seats, however, only 13 percent use the booster seats when transporting children between four to eight years of age.
* Approximately 68 percent of Latino parents who do not use booster seats secure the child using both the vehicle's lap belt and shoulder harness.
Booster seats are meant for children who are approximately 40-80 pounds and have outgrown their child safety seats, but are still too small to properly use the vehicle's seat belt alone. Some of the reasons cited by these minority parents for not utilizing booster seats include:
* Lack of knowledge about what a booster seat is.
* Lack of understanding of current law requirements.
* Uncertainty about which booster seat to purchase.
* Confusion about the proper use and installation of the booster seat.
"Clearly, the findings indicate a need for consumer education and outreach to minority communities regarding booster seats," said Robert Yakushi, Nissan's corporate manager, automotive safety engineering. "African-American and Latino parents are aware of passenger vehicle safety for their young children, as evidenced by the high percentage of infant and child safety seat use. But, despite the awareness of booster seats, a large percentage of drivers said they don't routinely use booster seats for their older children."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for children within the first year of life. Statistics show that each year, 1,700 children die and 300,000 are seriously injured in motor vehicle crashes, and six out of ten children killed in crashes were completely unrestrained.
Statistics from NHTSA also show that traffic accidents are the number one killer of African-American children. Among children aged five to 12, occupant death rates for African-Americans were almost three times those of Caucasians. Hispanic children under the age of four have the second highest highway death rate after African-American children. The death rate for Hispanic children age five to 12 is 43 percent lower than the rate for African-American children in the same age group, but 72 percent greater than the rate for white children.
"Nissan created our 'Quest For Safety' program to help educate parents and caregivers about proper child safety while driving," Yakushi added. "The findings released today confirm we -- and other safety organizations -- should focus additional efforts on the issue of booster seats for older children."
Other survey findings include:
* Approximately 69 percent of African-American parents own or regularly use child or infant safety seats.
* Approximately 33 percent of African-American parents and approximately 39 percent of Latino parents prematurely graduate their children to a forward facing seat though they should remain in a rear-facing seat until they are at least 20 pounds and one year old.
* Reasons Latino parents cited for not using infant seats are they "don't know which one to buy" or they "prefer to use infant carrier."
* Reasons Latino parents cited for not using child safety seats are "the child doesn't like it" and it "takes up too much space."