WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL)—A study by the American Society for the Positive Care of Children says approximately 59% of all car seats and 20% of all booster seats in America are installed or used improperly. Nearly 40% of all children riding with adults who are not wearing a seatbelt are also unrestrained, which is why Texas’ Click-it or Ticket Law is getting tougher on violators with fines of up to $200 or more.
DPS Sergeant Dan Buesing says in Texoma, the most common violations they see when it comes to car seats are incorrect placements, no seat belts or no car seats at all. In Texas, it’s required by law that all drivers and passengers in vehicles must be secured by a safety belt.
These are the guidelines for child safety seats in Texas:
- Any children under a year old and/or under 35 pounds should be placed in a rear-facing child seat in the back seat of the car.
- Under no circumstances is an infant allowed in the front seat, due to the impact of front and side airbags in the event of a crash.
- Once your child has reached a year old, they may sit in a forward-facing safety seat, again in the rear of the vehicle. They will need to use this seat from ages 1 – 4, and 20-40 pounds.
- All children under the age of 5 AND less than 36 inches tall must continue to use the safety seats.
- Kids will typically need to use a booster seat until they are 4 foot 9 inches tall and weigh anywhere between 80 and 100 pounds (4-8 year-old).
In order to prevent more of these violations from happening, TXDOT traffic safety specialist, Tish Beaver says it begins with three simple steps: Buckle, Lock, Tighten. Here’s how it goes:
- Feed the seat belt through the belt path of the car seat and BUCKLE it
- To LOCK the seat belt in place, pull the seat belt until your hear it click
- LOCK the top of the car seat to the anchor located in the back seat near the windshield
- TIGHTEN the car seat by pulling straight up on the seat belt
- Make sure the seat does not move an inch left or right, backwards or forwards
There’s also a way to see if your child is harnessed in the car seat correctly with what Tish calls the Two-Finger test. Here’s how it works:
- Slide two fingers underneath both sides of the harness to make sure it’s not too terribly tight
- Make sure it’s not too loose. If so, tighten the straps to fit accordingly
- Make sure the dimensions of the car seat fit the measurements of your child
If you need more assistance with car seat installation, TXDOT offers free checks and courses with United Regional. Call Laura Pressler at 940-764-3088 to schedule an appointment.