HARRISBURG – State Police and PennDOT are encouraging parents and guardians to participate in free child passenger safety seat checkups throughout Pennsylvania as the agencies kick off National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 18-24.
“Ensuring the safety of our most precious cargo must be our first priority every time we get behind the wheel,” said State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan. “So anytime you have a child in your car, I urge you to take a few extra moments to make sure they are restrained properly. If anyone has any doubts about whether they are using a child safety seat properly, now is the time to visit a safety inspection location.” Each of the department’s regional troops will conduct at least one checkup during the week.
PennDOT funds resources such as training and educational materials for 142 fitting stations across Pennsylvania, which checked more than 5,000 car seats last year. The checkups are designed to teach parents the proper installation and use of child safety seats.
“We work with our law enforcement and safety organization partners to have these checks available year-round because our children should always be safe in our vehicles,” PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch, P.E., said. “Nearly eight of every 10 child safety seats is installed incorrectly, so we strongly encourage parents and guardians to take advantage of these free opportunities.”
In 2010, nine children, from newborns to age eight, lost their lives in vehicle crashes in the state and more than 2,086 were injured.
Pennsylvania law requires that children under the age of 4 ride in a federally-approved car seat that is appropriate for the child’s age, height and weight. Children between the ages of 4 and 8 must use a booster seat if they are no longer in a car seat. State law also requires children between the ages of 8 and 18 must use a seat belt. Because of the potential dangers associated with air bag deployment, the state police also recommend that children ages 12 and under always ride in a vehicle’s back seat.
The department’s Bureau of Patrol offered the following tips:
- Use the car’s seat belt to anchor the seat to the car unless you are using a child safety seat with the 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 it is 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 car seat safety inspection locations and dates, click on the “Public Services” link at www.psp.state.pa.us. To view a list of PennDOT-supported car seat checks and see how PennDOT promotes child passenger safety, visit www.DriveSafePA.org, then “Traffic Safety Information Center” and “Child Passenger Safety.”