2011-09-29 / General Stories

Child Passenger Safety Week Recognized

As a part of National Child Passenger Safety Week campaign ( September 18- 24), the Lee County office of Texas AgriLife Extension Service hosted a Child Safety Seat Check-Up event on September 21. This was an excellent partnership between Lee County Extension, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Passenger Safety Project and the Texas Department of Transportation.

The event, held at the Giddings Public Library and open to the public, was to call attention to the need of proper use of child safety seats. Misuse and non-use of child safety seats is very high. Since 1999, the Texas AgriLife Extension Service Passenger Safety Project has overseen the inspection of 15,000 child safety seats, which involved a seat misuse rate of 99%.

Technicians, certified through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, inspected child safety seats for proper use and installation, relative to the passenger’s height and weight. If a seat was determined improperly in use, adjustments were made to secure the seat within manufacturer’s guidelines. Seats which did not fit the passenger correctly were replaced with seats which met safety specifications.

Despite the warm afternoon sun, there was an excellent turnout. Here are some statistics from the event:

56 child safety seats were inspected no child arrived restrained correctly

45 new seats were issued

10 old/ unsafe seats were collected

21 children arrived totally unrestrained or inappropriately in a seat belt

The Texas Child Restraint Law changed in 2009, requiring all children younger than 8 years old, unless taller than 4 feet 9 inches tall, to be in some sort of child restraint in the vehicle. This includes car safety seats and booster seats. A fine of up to $25 for the first offense and $250 for subsequent offences may be issued.

The best practice is for children not to ride in the vehicle’s seat belt system until they are 4 feet 9inches tall, in order for the seat belt to fit correctly. A seat belt fits correctly when the shoulder belt crosses the center of the shoulder and lays flat across the chest, and the lap portion of the belt is across the lower hips, not over the soft tissues of the abdomen.

It is best to keep children rearfacing as long as recommended by the manufacturer’s guidelines. Children are five times safer when kept rear-facing until age 2 or more. Most convertible seats go rear-facing to 30 or 35 lbs. There are now some on the market that go to 40 and 45 lbs. rear-facing. Always make sure there is an inch between the top of the child’s head and the top of the seat of the shell.

Children should not be moved to a booster seat until they are 4 years old, weigh 40 lbs. or more, and are mature enough to sit still for the entire ride. Best practice is to keep children under 40 lbs. in a car seat with an internal harness.

Parents wanting to have their child safety seat inspected for proper use and fitting, may contact Lee County Extension Agent, Tonya Poncik at 979.542.2753.

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