WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) When it comes to clicking and securing your littles ones in the back seat, it often requires a second look. According to the American SPCC, only half of all car seats are installed properly, making motor vehicle crashes the leading cause of death in children in the U.S.
According United Regional trauma medical director Laura Pressler, Wichita Falls has a grim track record of children and car crashes.
“At the end of 2019, we had some pretty significant injuries here in Wichita Falls with children being unrestrained in cars and so we pulled some numbers and last year in 2019, ¾ of the children that came into our emergency room were unrestrained or not restrained at all in a car seat,” says Pressler. “Some of the injuries that we see are head injuries, neck injuries, spinal cord injuries and of course we see some multiple injuries from children that are ejected from the vehicles.”
A recent Aceable study ranked Wichita Falls as one of the most dangerous cities for drivers. The study shows Wichita Falls had 10.52 fatal accidents per 100,000 residents which came in fifth place in the state.
Local law enforcement like DPS Sgt. Dan Buesing are constantly on the lookout for car seat violations, which unfortunately, are very common.
“Usually it’s just no car seat at all, or the car seat is totally not where it needs to be in regards to that child’s age or size…Depending on the justice of peace or where the violation occurs, it could be upwards of $200 on a fine,” says Sgt. Buesing.
To avoid any physical or legal ramifications, there is local help available through the Texas Department of Transportation.
“Parents don’t have to know everything about car seats, how to install them, the proper way to harness their kid in; all they have to know is who to call, who to reach out to and that’s what we’re here for,” says TXDOT traffic safety specialist Tish Beaver.
Beaver adds they are ramping up efforts to educate not only parents, but others who encounter kids everyday on child seat safety.
“What the Save-a-Life coalition is all about is reaching out and educating those boots-on-the-ground folks,” says Beaver, “Those law enforcement officers that are seeing first hand an immediate need, and they know to send those folks to us. Teachers that are out there loading kids in their elementary school drive thru as they’re loading them up to go home, they are the ones that are seeing first hand how some kids are not being restrained properly.”
Check out our car seat installation and check 101 video with Tish Beaver below!
Here’s what you need to know:
-Always select a car seat based on your child’s age and size
-Infant car seats should always be facing the rear of the car
-Children ages 1 through 5 must be in a 5-point restraint, then use a booster seat until they’re 4 foot 9 or 8 to 9 years old
-Remember BLT: Buckle, Lock and Tighten when installing a car seat