The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) are encouraging motorists to take advantage of safety seat check resources across the state as the agencies mark National Child Passenger Safety Week from September 17 through September 23. Additionally, Saturday, September 23, has been designated as “National Seat Check Saturday.”
To advance their public-safety missions, the agencies invest in community resources across the state. PennDOT funds resources such as training and educational materials for more than 170 fitting stations across Pennsylvania. The PSP checked more than 1,780 seats last year and found more than 870 misuses by drivers. The checkups are designed to teach proper installation and use of child safety seats.
“PennDOT urges parents and guardians to become familiar with the state’s child passenger safety laws as well as manufacturers’ suggestions,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “We have valuable public resources the traveling public can take advantage of during Child Passenger Safety week and beyond.”
Motorists are reminded that Pennsylvania’s primary seat-belt law requires drivers and passengers under 18 years old to buckle up, and children under the age of 4 must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat. Children ages 4 to 8 must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat.
“National Child Passenger Safety Week provides an excellent opportunity to remind drivers that certified Pennsylvania State Police child passenger safety technicians are available year-round to help ensure that seats are suitable for use and installed properly,” said Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Tyree C. Blocker. “Even if they have had their car seats inspected in the past, parents and caregivers should consider taking advantage of this free resource to keep their youngest passengers safe while on the road.”
A Pennsylvania law that went into effect August 2016 requires a child under 2 years of age be securely fastened in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system, which is to be used until the child outgrows the maximum weight and limits designated by the manufacturer.
In addition, children ages 8 to 18 must be wearing a seat belt when riding anywhere in the vehicle. Also, drivers and front-seat passengers 18 years-old or older are required to buckle up. If motorists are stopped for a traffic violation and are not wearing their seat belt, they can receive a second ticket and second fine.
Because of the potential dangers associated with air bag deployment, children ages 12 and under should always ride buckled in a vehicle’s back seat.
The State Police Bureau of Patrol also offers 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.pa.gov.
To view a list of PennDOT-supported car seat checks and for more child passenger safety resources, visit PennDOT.gov/safety click on “Traffic Safety and Driver Topics” and then “Child Passenger Safety.”