Campaign addresses cultural challenges of getting Latinos to drive safely

LatinaLista — Summer is known for more than just being the hottest part of the year or the time of endless road trips because of school vacations. For safety advocates, summer is considered the “100 deadliest days” of the year for drivers.

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Maybe because of the fact more people are on the road or maybe it’s the heat and people are drinking beverages they shouldn’t be to cool down, either way there seems to be more accidents on the highways from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

One group in North Carolina wants to make sure Latinos aren’t at fault for any driving accidents or killed themselves this summer and so they’ve launched a safe driving campaign with a cultural twist.

El Pueblo, Inc. created the Nuestra Seguridad Campaign that encompasses not only the dangers of drinking and driving but also not using seat belts or baby car seats or booster seats.

At the campaign’s website, there are fotonovelas of various scenarios leading to drunk driving that people can download, bumper stickers, posters and information about seat belts and baby car seats.

Cecilia Saloni, El Pueblo’s public safety director, said that car accidents are the No. 1 cause of death among Hispanics, who make up more than 8 percent of North Carolina’s population.

As it stands now nationally, only 85 percent of Latinos, ages 25-69, use seat belts when traveling with children.

As childen get older, there is less tendency among Latino families to restrain them in the cars. The 2008 National Survey of the Use of Booster Seats found that only 75 percent of Latino families are strict about their children, ages 4-7, buckling into their car seats. Yet, the percentage rises to 78 percent who have their children buckled in from ages 8-12.

The unfortunate assumption is that the kids are probably buckling themselves in at these later ages.

The creators of the safe driving campaign realize that noncompliance with the safety laws can be as much about culture and a lack of just knowing the law than being too lazy to make the effort.

For that reason the materials offered in this campaign are good sources of information to get very important messages out to Spansh-speakers and native born Latinos who think going the extra yard is too much of a hassle and don’t think about the consequences that their behavior will have on themselves, their families or the other person.

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