HARRISBURG — This week is National Child Passenger Safety Week, which runs from now through Saturday.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Pennsylvania State Police (PSP), and Pennsylvania Traffic Injury Prevention Project (PA TIPP) are encouraging drivers to take advantage of safety seat check resources across the state.
Saturday, Sept. 25 has been designated as “National Seat Check Saturday.”
“Seat belts and car seats are the best defense in a crash,” said PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian. “PennDOT urges all parents and caregivers to take time this week to learn more about the importance of correctly selecting, installing, and using car seats, booster seats, and seat belts.”
Car seat checks will be held across the state the week of Child Passenger Safety Week. For a complete list of events near you, click HERE.
PSP personnel certified as Child Passenger Safety (CPS) technicians will be conducting free child seat fitting events across the state. Caregivers can have their car seats checked for suitability, receive instruction on the proper installation, and have seats installed, learn to properly harness a child in a seat and check seats for recalls. The checkups are designed to teach proper installation and use of child safety seats and keep children across the commonwealth safe.
According to national statistics, car seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury by up to 71 percent for infants and 59 percent for toddlers; however, 46 percent of car seats and booster seats are installed or used incorrectly.
Through June 2021, members of the PSP have conducted 406 child safety seat inspections and discovered 239 cases of misuse. Throughout 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted seat checks, but PSP completed more than 850 checks and found more than 350 misuses by drivers. In 2019, over 1,600 checks were completed with more than 600 misuses observed.
In coordination with CPSW and “Seat Check Saturday,” local police will focus on proper child seat usage during a statewide CIOT Child Passenger Safety enforcement running from now until Sept. 24. In addition, each PSP Troop has designated walk-in days where drivers can have their child safety seats checked free of charge.
Here is a list of when people can have their local PSP check their car seats for free locally:
- Troop E, Meadville: Every 4th Wednesday during business hours.
- Troop E, Corry: Every 4th Wednesday during business hours.
- Troop E, Erie: Every 2nd Wednesday during business hours.
- Troop E, Girard: Every 1st Wednesday during business hours.
- Troop C, Lewis Run: Every 1st Wednesday during business hours.
- Troop E, Warren: Every 3rd Wednesday during business hours.
Pennsylvania’s primary seat belt law requires all occupants younger than 18 to wear a seat belt when riding anywhere in a vehicle. Children under the age of two must be secured in a rear-facing car seat, and children under the age of four must be restrained in an approved child safety seat. Children must ride in a booster seat until their eighth birthday.
“Parents and caregivers are encouraged to educate themselves and seek out assistance to properly install child passenger safety seats,” said Colonel Robert Evanchick, Commissioner of the PSP. “Keeping our youngest passengers safe should be a priority for everyone. Troopers who are certified as child passenger safety seat technicians are available to assist anyone who has questions or needs help installing a child seat.”
A secondary law also requires drivers and front-seat passengers 18 or older 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.
PA TIPP also offers the following tips:
- Select a car seat that is right for the child’s age and size;
- Fill out and return the registration card for your seat so you’ll know if it is recalled because of a problem;
- Read and follow the car seat instructions and the vehicle owner’s manual for information on correctly installing the car seat in the vehicle;
- Use the car’s seat belt or the LATCH system when installing the car seat;
- Make sure the car seat’s harness is correctly adjusted and fits snugly; and
- Use a tether strap when installing a forward-facing car seat, following manufacturer’s instructions.
For more information on child passenger safety, click HERE.
For more information on how to keep passengers safe, or if you are unable to afford a car seat, call 1-800-CAR-BELT or click HERE to find the nearest car seat loan program. Information on Child Safety Seat Inspection Stations and Community Car Seat Checkup Events is also available on the website.
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