2012-09-20 / Local & State

PennDOT, Police To Mark National Child Passenger Safety Week

State Police and Penn- DOT are encouraging motorists to participate in free child passenger safety seat checkups throughout Pennsylvania as the agencies mark National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 16 – 22.

“Only about one in every four child safety seats are installed correctly, so we’re urging those transporting our smallest passengers to get their seats checked,” Penn-DOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. “PennDOT partners with law enforcement and safety groups year-round to ensure parents and caregivers always have access to information and services that help keep children safe.”

PennDOT funds resources such as training and educational materials for 141 fitting stations across Pennsylvania, at which more than 5,000 car seats were checked last year. The checkups are designed to teach parents the proper installation and use of child safety seats.

“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.

Each of the department’s troops will conduct at least one safety seat check during the week, Noonan said. The seat checks are designed to teach parents the proper installation and use of child safety seats.

“We know that child passenger safety seats save lives, but only when they are installed and used properly,” Noonan said. “Using these seats properly is an absolute must for everyone traveling with children.”

In 2011, nine children, from newborns to age 8, lost their lives in vehicle crashes in the state. Another 2,487 children 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.

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.

To view a list of Penn- DOT- supported car seat checks and see how PennDOT promotes child passenger safety, visit www.JustDrivePA.com, then “Traffic Safety Information Center” and “Child Passenger Safety.”

Child passenger seat check events occurring in PennDOT District 9 (Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Fulton, Huntingdon and Somerset Counties) are as follows:

Thursday, Sept. 20: Sam’s Club – Altoona, 2500 Plank Road, Altoona; 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 21: Target Shopping Center, 153 Sierra Drive, Altoona; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Saturday, Sept. 22: Fulton Co. Lions Club Park, 1 Lions Drive, McConnellsburg; noon to 2 p.m.

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