HARRISBURG – About 75 percent of child passenger safety seats inspected last month by the Pennsylvania State Police were improperly installed, announced Commissioner Frank E. Pawlowski.
“I urge all parents to check the child safety seats in their vehicles,” Pawlowski said. “We know that these seats save lives, but only when they are used correctly. If you are unsure about whether your child’s safety seat is installed properly, please arrange for an inspection by our troopers.”
State police inspected 504 child safety seats at 68 locations during National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 19-25. Pawlowski said troopers found that 378 of those seats were improperly installed.
“A common problem is that parents don’t always securely anchor the child seat to the vehicle’s seat,” Pawlowski said. “Anchoring the child seat properly is critical to its performance in a crash.”
Other common problems identified during the inspections included failing to use the child seat’s harness to hold the child in place, facing the car seat in the wrong direction, and using a seat that has been recalled because of a defect, Pawlowski said.
Pennsylvania law requires that children under 4 years of age be securely fastened in an approved child passenger restraint seat while traveling in a vehicle. Children ages 4 to 8 must use a booster seat if they are no longer in a car seat.
Pawlowski said research shows that child restraints provide the best protection for all children up to age 8. After that age, seat belts provide the best protection.
Because of the potential dangers associated with air bags deploying, state police recommend that children 12 years of age and under always ride in a vehicle’s rear seat.
State police issued 331 occupant protection citations and 1,505 occupant protection warnings during National Child Passenger Safety Week traffic stops. Citations and warnings were not issued to people who brought their seats to the voluntary inspections.
The department’s Bureau of Patrol offered the following tips to parents:
• Use the car’s seat belt to anchor the seat to the car unless you are using a child safety seat with a LATCH system;
• Read and follow the car seat manufacturer’s instructions;
• Fill out and return the registration card for your seat so you’ll know if the seat has been recalled because of a problem;
• Make sure the seat’s harness fits snugly; and
• Use a tether strap if the seat requires it.
For more information on car seat safety and to get a list of state police monthly car seat safety inspection locations and dates, click on the “Public Services” link at www.psp.state.pa.us.