The Pennsylvania State Police and PennDOT are encouraging drivers to participate in free child passenger safety seat checkups throughout Pennsylvania as the agencies mark National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 16 through 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," PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said in a press release. "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 eight lost their lives in vehicle crashes in Pennsylvania. Another 2,487 children were injured.
State 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 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 PennDOT-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."
Below is a list of free car seat events scheduled in the Philadelphia area for Child Passenger Safety Week. The media is invited to publish this list in advance and also cover the events.
FREE CAR SEAT CHECKS, SEPTEMBER 17-22
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20
9 a.m. – 12 p.m., PSP Skippack Barracks, 2047 C Bridge Road, Schwenksville, PA 19473. Contact: 610-584-1250 ext. 3
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Good Will Fire Company, 715 East High Street, Pottstown, PA 19464. Contact: 610-327-7145
8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., Limerick Fire Station, 390 West Ridge Pike, Limerick, PA 19468. Contact: 610-278-5119
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22
9 a.m. – 1 p.m., Elmwood Park Zoo, 1661 Harding Boulevard, Norristown, PA 19401. Contact: 215-590-5437