State Police and PennDOT are encouraging motorists to participate in free child passenger safety seat checkups throughout Pennsylvania as the agencies mark National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 14 – 20. Additionally, Saturday, Sept. 20, has been designated as “National Seat Check Saturday.”
“I urge all parents and caregivers to not only get their seats checked, but also to explore all educational materials available to them,” PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. “PennDOT, police departments and safety partners across the state are available year-round to ensure children are legally and correctly restrained.”
PennDOT funds resources such as training and educational materials for 145 fitting stations across Pennsylvania, at which more than 5,000 car seats were checked last year. The checkups are designed to teach drivers the proper installation and use of child safety seats.
Another PennDOT-funded resource is “Sit Back – It’s Elementary,” a new elementary school curriculum focused on reducing traffic-related injuries and deaths. Through the in-school program, trained police officers and safety partners educate children on making proper seat-belt use and positioning a habit.
“Child car seats and booster seats save lives, but only when they are installed and used properly,” said State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan. “The inspections conducted by our troopers typically find that a high percentage of these seats are not installed correctly — in many cases, the child’s seat was not securely anchored,” Noonan said. “Anchoring the child seat properly to the vehicle is critical to its performance in a crash.”
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.
The state’s seat belt law mandates that children ages 8 to 17 must use a seat belt, and violating this law is a primary offense. It is a secondary offense for drivers and front seat passengers age 18 and older to travel unbuckled.
Because of the potential dangers associated with air bag deployment, children ages 12 and under should always ride in a vehicle’s back seat.
The State Police Bureau of Patrol also offered the following tips:
* Read and follow the car seat and vehicle manufacturers’ instructions;
* 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;
* 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 Safety” link at www.psp.state.pa.us<http://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.JustDrivePA.com<http://www.JustDrivePA.com>, then “Traffic Safety Information Center” and “Child Passenger Safety.”