Buckling Up for Life: Empowering Child Passenger Safety

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Only one in four child car seats are installed correctly. It’s a statistic that shocks, but there’s a way to help change it. Conceived by Dr. Rebeccah Brown and Dr. Victor Garcia, both emergency room physicians at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, Buckle Up for Life educates families on how to install car seats correctly.

The only national program of its kind, Buckle Up for Life was born in 2004 in direct response to the instances of trauma the two physicians saw in the ER. Together, Cincinnati Children’s and Toyota created the passenger safety education program.  Since then, Buckle Up for Life, which partners with local organizations in each of its operational areas, has expanded to communities in 243 cities in 50 states.

That’s a lot of ground.

Since the program’s inception, Buckle Up for Life and Toyota have collaborated on numerous successes, including:

  • Educated nearly 166,000 people on the proper use of seat belts and car seats
  • Partnered with community organizations in 243 cities across 50 states
  • Grown to 302 partners nationwide
  • Collaborated with 570 nonprofit organizations, public service agencies, and federally recognized tribal nations
  • Piloted seven Toyota Dealership events  
  • Attends Lifesavers Conference annually
  • Participated in over 18 diversity conferences, including: UnidosUS, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Urban League and Latinos in Social Media

Toyota’s focus on safety made the partnership with Buckle Up for Life a natural fit. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death among children and injure over 100,000 annually. Proper use of car seats reduces injury risk in a crash by over 70%, while booster seats reduce the risk of serious injury by 45% when compared to seat belt use alone.

To help address these problems, Cincinnati Children’s and Toyota teamed up to share knowledge and create solutions. For example, like other aspects of family life, child passenger safety suffers from income-based inequities. Part of the Buckle Up for Life mission is to provide car seats to families that can’t afford them. To date, Buckle Up for Life has donated over 81,000 car seats.

“The partnership with Cincinnati Children's Hospital to create and sustain Buckle Up for Life reflects Toyota’s unwavering commitment to supporting child passenger safety for all families. The growth of the program means more outreach to more communities, part of the continuous improvement and respect for people behind everything we do,” says Mike Goss, general manager, Social Innovation, Toyota Motor North America.

But providing resources is only part of the overall vision for BUFL. The true mission is empowerment. “Buckle Up for Life not only provides resources where there were none before but creates a platform for community leaders to advocate for child passenger safety,” says Gloria DelCastillo, senior specialist, Community Engagement, Buckle Up for Life. Adds DelCastillo,” Along with Toyota and community agencies throughout the country, we are dedicated to the shared goal of accessible car seat education and resources to families across the country.”

Buckle Up for Life teaches families the importance of proper restraint on every ride.  One way to get these essential tools to parents, grandparents and other caregivers is through events at Toyota dealerships and elsewhere in the community, which combine education and donations to serve the surrounding population.

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