HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania State Police will offer free child safety seat inspections statewide in conjunction with the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration's "Click It or Ticket" campaign from now through June 2.
"Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for children 15 and younger, and many of those tragedies occur because the child passenger is not properly restrained," State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan said. "Ensuring the safety of our most precious cargo must be our first priority every time we get behind the wheel."
Each of the department's troops will conduct at least one safety seat check during the week, Noonan said.
The seat checks are designed to teach parents the proper installation and use of child safety seats.
"We know that child passenger safety seats save lives, but only when they are installed and used properly," Noonan said. "Using these seats properly is an absolute must for everyone traveling with children."
Pennsylvania law requires that children under the age of 4 ride in a federally-approved car seat that is appropriate for the child's age, height and weight.
Children ages 4 through 7 must use a booster seat if they are no longer in a car seat. Children who weigh more than 80 pounds or who are of a height of 4 feet 9 inches or taller may be fastened in the vehicle's safety seat belt system without the use of a child booster seat.
The state's seat beltlaw mandates that children ages 8 to 17 must use a seat belt, and violating this law is a primary offense.
It is a secondary offense for drivers and front-seat passengers age 18 and older to travel unbuckled.
Because of the potential dangers associated with air bag deployment, children ages 12 and under should always ride in a vehicle's back seat.
The State Police Bureau of Patrol also offered 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.
Use a tether strap if the seat requires it.
For a list of child car seat safety inspection locations and dates, visit the state police website at www.psp.state.pa.us, click on the banner ad at the top of the homepage.