From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Black medical college, insurer, unite in seat-belt drive

From NewsDesk <NewsDesk@UMCOM.ORG>
Date Fri, 7 Jun 2002 13:33:50 -0500

June 7, 2002 News media contact: Linda Green7(615)742-54707Nashville, Tenn.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS)-A United Methodist-related medical school and an
auto insurance company have teamed up to increase seat-belt use among
African Americans.

Meharry Medical College in Nashville and State Farm Insurance Companies,
headquartered in Bloomington, Ill., have formed an alliance to address what
they say is a public health crisis.

Automobile crashes are the second leading cause of death among African
Americans, according to Meharry and State Farm. The Meharry-State Farm
Alliance will assist the school and insurance company in understanding why
African Americans use seat belts less than other groups. The campaign will
use the information it gathers to create culturally appropriate educational
materials and public awareness efforts.

State Farm has pledged $10 million to support Meharry's medical and research
initiatives on the issue during the next five years. The alliance also will
use recommendations from a blue-ribbon panel formed in 2000 by former U.S.
Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater to address the gap in seat-belt
use by African Americans.

The Meharry-State Farm Alliance will conduct community-based research into
attitudes and behavior about the use of seat belts and child safety seats,
and it will test methods for changing behavior. The findings will used in
educational materials for community health centers, medical and dental
offices, churches, schools, historically black colleges and universities,
the media and community-based organizations.
Data from a study conducted by Meharry researchers show that use of seat
belts and child safety seats among African Americans would save an estimated
1,300 lives, prevent 26,000 injuries and save $2.6 billion in costs to
society annually, according to Jill Scoggins, spokesperson for the school.

Seat-belt use among African-American males 18 to 29 years old has remained
"stagnant," while use among other groups has grown, according to the study.
Scoggins said researchers also found that African-American youth are 50
percent less likely to buckle up than whites or Hispanic youth. Nationally,
in 2000, more than 41,000 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and
more than 3 million were injured.  

"Over the course of its 125-year history, Meharry has established its
leadership in identifying and addressing the disparities in morbidity and
morality between African Americans and other underserved populations, and
the population as a whole," said Meharry President John E. Maupin. "This new
alliance furthers our work. Meharry is pleased to unite with State Farm in
the drive to save lives."

"As a corporate citizen, we feel a strong responsibility to try to find an
answer to this overwhelming problem," said Willie Brown, senior vice
president of State Farm Insurance. 

Meharry Medical College is the only historically black professional school
related to the United Methodist Church, and is the nation's largest,
private, independent African-American institution dedicated to educating
health science professionals. Today, more than 15 percent of the African
Americans who receive degrees in medicine and dentistry each year are
Meharry graduates.

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United Methodist News Service
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