Harrisburg, PA – Although “National Seat Check Week” was last week, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), and Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) are still encouraging motorists to take advantage of safety seat check resources across the state.
To advance their public-safety missions, the agencies invest in community resources across the state. PennDOT funds resources such as training and educational materials for more than 190 fitting stations across Pennsylvania. The PSP checked more than 1,900 seats last year and found more than 750 misuses by drivers. The checkups are designed to teach proper installation and use of child safety seats.
“Restraining all passengers properly is the best defense in a crash,” PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said. “PennDOT urges all parents and guardians to become familiar with the state’s child passenger safety laws, as well as manufacturers suggestions, fitting stations and resources.”
Motorists are reminded that Pennsylvania’s primary seat-belt law requires drivers and passengers under 18 to buckle up, and children below the age of 4 must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat. Children ages 4 to 8 must be restrained in an appropriate booster seat.
“The consistent use of a properly installed child passenger safety seat is the first step parents and caregivers can take toward keeping their youngest passengers safe while traveling,” said Acting Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Lieutenant Colonel Robert Evanchick. “Troopers certified as child passenger safety seat technicians are available to assist anyone who has questions about their car seat and to offer a helping hand to ensure it is installed correctly.”
A Pennsylvania law that went into effect August 2016 requires a child below the age of 2 be securely fastened in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system, which is to be used until the child outgrows the maximum weight and limits designated by the manufacturer.
In addition, children ages 8 to 18 must be wearing a seat belt when riding anywhere in the vehicle. Also, drivers and front-seat passengers 18 or older are required 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.
Because of the potential dangers associated with air bag deployment, children 12 and younger should always ride buckled in a vehicle’s back seat.
The State Police Bureau of Patrol also offers 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.pa.gov.
To view a list of PennDOT-supported car seat checks and for more child passenger safety resources, visit PennDOT.gov/safety click on “Traffic Safety and Driver Topics” and then “Child Passenger Safety.”