Written by: KATHI WHITE (TxDOT Public Information Officer), HEATHER SINGLETON (TxDOT Traffic Safety Specialist) / April-June 2017
Do you know how to buckle your kids up right when they’re riding in your vehicle? It’s a goal of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to keep kids safe when you’re traveling with them on Texas highways and to that end, the department offers free, year-round child safety seat checks at its 25 district offices around the state.
For TxDOT, the safety of the traveling public is a top priority. Keeping children safe when they’re riding in a vehicle is of utmost importance, particularly, since vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children under 14 in the United States.
Do you know Texas law requires all children younger than 8 years old, unless taller than 4’9”, to be in a child safety seat when riding in a passenger vehicle? When they’re not, the driver faces a ticket or fine. But worse, that puts children’s lives at risk.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) estimates that 3 out of 4 child safety seats are not used correctly, also putting young lives at risk of injury and death.
“Correctly installed child safety seats and booster seats save lives and are the best way to protect children when they’re riding in a vehicle,” said Kathi White, TxDOT Public Information Officer. “But there’s more to it, you also must use the right seat for each child.”
In September 2013, TxDOT implemented its free, year-round child safety seat inspection program statewide. These checks are available by appointment only through your local TxDOT office. The checks are conducted by certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians (techs) who are trained to determine if children are properly restrained in age- and size- appropriate seats.
TxDOT’s Tyler District boasts the certification of five new Child Passenger Safety (CPS) Technicians in 2017. Last year, TxDOT’s award-winning CPS program distributed approximately 3,200 car seats to citizens who are economically disadvantaged. We also partner with organizations and agencies such as SafeKids and the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Safe Riders Program who receive grant funding to participate in the program providing checks and distributing car seats. All CPS techs are certified through the National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training Program developed by NHTSA.
“Our CPS techs perform car seat check-up events around the Tyler District, which includes Smith, Cherokee, Wood, Gregg, Henderson, Anderson, Van Zandt and Rusk counties,” said Heather Singleton, Traffic Safety Specialist and CPS Technician. “At these events, caregivers are invited to bring their children in their car seats so that our techs can check the safety of their child passengers.
“The techs will check a number of things, including whether a child is appropriately fitted to the car seat, whether the car seat has been installed properly, whether unregulated items are being used, whether the car seat is facing the correct direction, and more. Car seat misuse rates vary from 74 to 90 percent and we want to change that. ”
The techs also provide free educational information and resources on the need for registering car seats with the manufacturer, and what to do if a seat is recalled. Using the wrong size safety seat is one of the most common mistakes made by caregivers.
In addition to our TxDOT techs, those who help us in this very important effort to keep children safe and serve our local communities through the car seat check events are from our various partner agencies including the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) Department of State Health Services (DSHS), our sub-grantees, emergency medical services, and law enforcement agencies.
For one-on-one education and assistance, caregivers are encouraged to contact Singleton at (903) 510-9225 to schedule an appointment. Drivers also may visit SaveMeWithASeat.com to learn if a child should be in a rear-facing seat, forward-facing seat or booster seat.
Upcoming seatbelt enforcement & child safety seat events
April 29: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Car Seat Checkup Event at Christus Good Shepherd in Longview
May 22 – June 4: Statewide Click It or Ticket Enforcement Campaign
(Law enforcement will target unrestrained occupants)
May 23: Tyler District Click It or Ticket Media Event
Media inquiries, contact Kathi White, Public Information Officer, at 903-510-9267.