American Family joins effort to urge ethnic teens to buckle up

Madison, Wis. (Oct. 28, 2002) – A disproportionate number of black and Hispanic teenagers are dying on America’s roadways, and it’s in part because of their decision not to buckle up.

American Family Insurance and the Edward Davis Education Foundation recently co-sponsored a forum at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s (CBCF) Annual Legislative Conference to discuss ways to increase seat belt use by ethnic teenagers.

The conference was a good match for American Family because of its place in the automobile insurance industry and desire to increase safe driving practices, said Gwen Jones, director of emerging markets development for the company.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the use of seat belts and child safety seats by African Americans and Hispanics remains lower than the population as a whole. This difference has contributed to higher traffic fatality rates for the two groups, the NHTSA says.

Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among African American children from birth to age 14, and the second leading cause of death among African American males between the ages 15 to 24.

Traffic accidents are also the leading cause of death for Hispanics under the age of 45, and the third leading cause of death for Hispanics of all ages, surpassed only by heart disease and cancer.

“Too many people – particularly young people – are dying or getting seriously hurt in crashes when a simple buckling of a seat belt may have saved them,” Jones said.

A 1999 study by Meharry Medical College, a historically black medical institution, reported that 100 percent seat belt use among African Americans could save 1,300 lives and prevent 26,000 injuries each year.

Reps. Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-Michigan) and Bobby Rush (D-Illinois) introduced the forum to a full house of congressional staff, public affairs officials and other public policy decision makers. Various experts spoke about safety restraint use and gave their own perspectives on the subject, including representatives from General Motors, Ford and Volvo.

The CBCF holds this annual conference to provide a national forum to develop strategies and viable solutions to public policy issues.

Ken Muth
Media Relations Director
American Family Insurance
Tel: (608) 242-4100, ext. 30680
E-mail: [email protected]