With motor vehicle crashes still a leading cause of death among children, the Texas Department of Transportation is joining safety advocates statewide to remind parents of the importance of always buckling up their children. That means not only making sure they’re secured in their vehicle, but also avoiding the most common mistakes when it comes to child safety seats: failing to select the seat that is appropriate for the child’s age and size, and failing to correctly install it.
As part of its September “Save Me with a Seat” campaign, TxDOT is encouraging parents to sign up for a free child safety seat check-up at any of its 25 district offices located throughout Texas.
“We want to help parents prevent the kind of tragedy no mother or father should have to endure,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “That’s why we’re making a special push this month to encourage parents and caregivers to have one of our certified technicians ensure they’re not only using the right seat for their child but also that it’s properly installed.”
While most parents believe their children are properly buckled up, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that 2 out of 3 safety seats are not used correctly. According to NHTSA, child safety seats in passenger cars reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers. In Texas, in 2017:
· 408 children younger than 8 years old were seriously injured and 73 died in traffic crashes.
· 411 children ages 8 to 12 were seriously injured and another 30 were killed.
To protect against injury, TxDOT recommends that all children under age 13 ride in the back seat, properly secured in a seat belt or safety seat.
Leading up to National Child Passenger Safety Week, Sept. 23–29, TxDOT is partnering with Build-A-Bear Workshop® to hold outreach events at malls in five Texas cities. While specialists are conducting safety seat demonstrations and answering parents’ questions about correct safety seat use, Build-A-Bear® will provide hands-on activities for children. Safety events are planned at North East Mall in Hurst on Sept. 1, Richland Mall in Waco on Sept. 5, Sunrise Mall in Brownsville on Sept. 8, La Palmera Mall in Corpus Christi on Sept. 15 and Katy Mills Mall in Katy on Sept. 22. “Save Me with a Seat” campaign materials also will be available at all 35 Build-A-Bear locations in Texas on Sept. 29, National Seat Check Saturday.
TxDOT’s free safety seat inspections are available weekdays throughout the year and take about 20 to 30 minutes. To schedule a seat check-up with a TxDOT Traffic Safety Specialist, visit SaveMeWithaSeat.org and enter your ZIP code to find the nearest TxDOT district office. Drivers also can find out if a child should be in a rear-facing, forward-facing or booster seat and get other child passenger safety tips by visiting the website.
State law requires all children under 8 years old, unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches, to be in a safety seat whenever they ride in a vehicle. Failure to properly restrain a child can result in a ticket of up to $250.