In an effort to keep children safe and parents worry-free this summer, the Illinois Tollway and Illinois State Police District 15 have scheduled a free Kids Identification and Safety Seat (K.I.S.S.) event at the Discovery Center Museum in Rockford. Parents, grandparents and caregivers are invited to stop by and create free kids’ identification cards and get help with child safety seat inspections.
The free K.I.S.S. event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 9, in the parking lot of the museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford. A touch-a-truck display will allow kids to climb aboard and get behind the wheel of a 26-ton Illinois Tollway snow plow or a Highway Emergency Lane Patrol (H.E.L.P.) truck. The Discovery Center Museum, which features more than 250 interactive exhibits for children, is offering half-price admission on the day of the event for all K.I.S.S. participants.
“Nearly 90 percent of the child safety seats inspected by the Illinois State Police are improperly installed — up from 80 percent last year,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “K.I.S.S. events offer free safety seat checks and ID cards to help keep children safe and provide peace of mind for parents, grandparents and caregivers when they’re on the road.”
K.I.S.S. events also offer parents, grandparents and caregivers the opportunity to have ID cards created for children ages 3 and older. Specially trained professionals will take kids’ photographs and fingerprints and gather vital information to include on three personal ID cards — one for home and two for a wallet or purse. This information will not be stored by police, but rather, used by parents and others in the event of an emergency.
More than 2,100 children — almost two children per minute — are reported missing every day in the United States. Law enforcement and others need proper identification that is immediately available before they can take action. Many lost children can be located if parents immediately provide police with an accurate description of the child.
K.I.S.S. events will also provide certified child passenger safety technicians to inspect and install child safety seats and help drivers stay up-to-date with the latest safety seat information and educational materials. Properly installed safety seats eliminate a potential distraction for drivers and significantly reduce the risk of injury or greater tragedy for children in the event of an accident. And yet, 80 percent of child safety seats in Illinois are improperly installed.
“Securing proper safety restraints for children in automobiles is the law and no child should travel in a vehicle without being properly restrained at all times,” said District 15 Commander Patrick Kimes. “The certified safety seat technicians at K.I.S.S. events make the adjustments needed to keep all kids safe at every stage of their development.”
Nationally, car crashes are the No. 1 killer of children ages 1 through 12, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Each day, an average of three children age 14 and younger are killed and another 469 are injured in motor vehicle crashes. In Illinois, 36 children age 14 and younger were killed in traffic accidents in 2011, the latest year for which statistics are available.
Research on the effectiveness of child safety seats has found them to reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants younger than 1 year old and by 54 percent for toddlers 1 to 4 years old in passenger cars, according to the NHTSA. Over the period 1975 through 2011, an estimated 9,874 lives were saved by child restraints for children younger than 5 in passenger vehicles.
K.I.S.S. events also offer a convenient way for drivers to make sure they comply with Illinois law, which requires that whenever a person is transporting a child younger than 8, the person is responsible for properly securing the child in an appropriate child restraint system. Last year, District 15’s certified child passenger safety seat technicians checked a total of nearly 350 child safety seats.
To participate, parents, grandparents and caregivers should bring child safety seats, children and the vehicle in which the child safety seats will be installed. Information about recalls, correct positioning, correct sizing to protect the child most effectively, plus additional safety information and resources will be offered at these events.
K.I.S.S. events are scheduled at a variety of locations along the 286-mile Illinois Tollway system throughout northern Illinois. For more about K.I.S.S. events, visit the Tollway’s website at www.illinoistollway.com.
Posted Aug. 5, 2014