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Child car seats are ticket to safe trip

Staff writer

The days of tossing the kids in the car like luggage and leaving them free to roam about the cab are legally in the past.

Child car seats and car seat safety laws evolved from common sense as a way to protect children.

Three police officers in Marion County agreed most county motorists seem to follow the rules when it comes to buckling kids up.

“During traffic stops, we see the vast majority of people comply with safety restraint regulations,” Hillsboro police chief Dan Kinning said. “But sometimes we get calls from concerned citizens who say they’ve seen someone driving with a kid who is not in a child safety seat.”

In Marion, officer Duane McCarty said most people use them too, but observed a common excuse when people are caught for not securing children properly.

“People will tell us they were in a hurry to get a gallon of milk or something, and say that they were just going a couple blocks,” McCarty said.

Peabody officer Travis Davis has also run into a few who don’t.

“If I see a kid out of their seat, I write it up,” Davis said. “But we don’t see it that often.”

Officers will often refer motorists to Marion County Health Department if motorists have questions about how to install car seats properly.

According to USAA Educational Foundation, infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until they are 2 years old or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.

Parents should be aware to keep infant seats at an approximately 45-degree angle to help ensure unobstructed breathing. Harness straps should be kept snug and flat, and the chest clip should always be fastened at the middle of the chest and level with the armpits.

The top of the child’s head should be at least one inch below the top of the plastic shell of a rear facing infant seat.

Children in that age range who have outgrown rear-facing seats should move to forward-facing car seats with harnesses for as long as possible.

Harness straps should be at or below the shoulders as well as snug, straight and flat.

Bulky clothing and blankets should be removed before placing the child in the restraint system. Blankets should never be placed underneath or behind the child while they are in a forward-facing car seat. Chest clips should also be level with the armpits.

The midpoint of the back of the child’s head should not be above the top of the child-seat’s plastic shell.

Harness straps should be positioned at or above, not below, the child’s shoulder in a forward-facing child’s seat.

Once their weight and height have exceeded the forward-facing car seat limit, school-aged children should be secured in belt-positioning booster seats until the vehicle’s seat belt fits them properly which is typically when the child has reached 4 feet, 9 inches and is between 8 and 12 years old, according to USSA Educational Foundation.

Once children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle’s seat belt alone they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts.

All children younger than 13 year should be restrained in the rear seats of vehicles for optimal protection.

Last modified Oct. 29, 2015

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