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Car seat safety: nearly half of children are not buckled in properly, TXDOT says

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Whether you're getting ready to travel this summer or just taking a quick trick to the grocery store, the Texas Department of Transportation wants you to know how to keep your little ones safe.

While most parents may think their children are safe in their cars seats, TXDOT said that 46 percent of children are not. This is due to common mistakes made by those buckling kids into their seats before hitting the road.

"Some things that they do, for example, are not installing the harness clip correctly, that black clip... It should be at armpit level," said TXDOT Traffic Safety Specialist Monica O'Kane. "The other thing that they do is that the harness is too loose, so the parent should not be able to pinch up here at the shoulder. They should not be able to fold that harness. If they can make that fold, that means that that harness is too loose. And should the baby go unconscious during the crash, his or her shoulders will drop and that baby can be ejected."

Another common mistake is that parents don't realize that car seats do not last forever: they expire.

"They could look on the bottom of the car seat or on the sides of the car seat where the manufacturer's instructions are should be labeled. Older car seats don't have that label on there. So it's embedded on the actual shell. It's kind of part of the black plastic of the back of the shell. So sometimes it's a little hard to read," said O'Kane.

TXDOT also has a four stage guide to help you understand when to change your child's car seat.

"Another common mistake is that parents, they are not sure when to transition the child. Like what car seat do I need to use? You know, when is it time to move the child up?" said O'Kane. "A lot of parents think that by one year old they can flip them from rear-facing to forward-facing and that is not recommended. We actually recommend they stay rear-facing to at least two years old or the maximum height and weight of their current car seat."

After that, the TXDOT guide says to change over to a forward-facing car seat with a harness, and to use that as long as possible. When they grow out of that seat, TXDOT encourages parents to transition them to a booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly.

TXDOT also says children under the age of 13 years should be in the back seat.

If anyone has any questions about how to properly install and secure children in car seats, you can call 915-790-4368 for help.

Article Topic Follows: Local Focus

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Kerry Mannix


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