CHP to host North Tahoe car seat inspection |

CHP to host North Tahoe car seat inspection

The California Highway Patrol and Safe Kids Placer County will target the leading cause of death in children ” motor vehicle accidents ” by checking car seats Saturday.

Most car seats are not installed properly, according to officials. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2006 found that 72 percent of nearly 3,500 inspected car seats were not installed correctly.

Coordinator Jim Owens of Safe Kids Placer County said he felt that nine in 10 car seats are installed with mistakes.

“It’s hard to say if one [mistake] would cause an injury or death. But the problem begins when you have multiple” errors, Owens said. “The mistakes typically don’t come in ones. They’re usually in packs. You’ll see two or three or more sometimes.”

There are three common mistakes Owens said he sees time and time again.

First of all, the seat is usually not installed tight enough.

“It shouldn’t move more than one inch, side to side, front to back,” he said.

The harness straps tend to loosen and fails to keep the child securely buckled in. Owens said he likes to see the harness “snug, flat and comfortable.”

“I try to reinforce that the harness is really what keeps the child in the vehicle,” he said.

And finally, parents often mix up a latch system with seat belts when installing the car seat.

“There’s a new wave of education going on with all the new advancements with car seats and cars,” Owens said. “You only want to use one or the other.”

These three common errors will be among those Owens and other certified car seat technicians will be looking for when they examine car seats tomorrow.

“We make corrections and we just kind of educate the parents on the proper installation of the seat,” said CHP Officer Steve Skeen.

The California Highway Patrol will also distribute free car seats at tomorrow’s event to replace outdated or expired car seats, or seats that no longer fit growing children.

“The bottom line is that we just want to make sure that children are properly secured in their car seats,” Skeen said. “So that the one time you need the seat to work properly it does.”

Local mom Pettit Gilwee said she wouldn’t think about driving her one-year-old and four-year-old anywhere without buckling them up safely in a car seat and booster seat.

“I wouldn’t go anywhere with my kids without them being buckled into their car seats. No way,” Gilwee said. “And just think, our parents would have us roaming around … times have changed.”

While CHP has hosted car seat checks in Truckee, this is the first in a while they have offered in North Tahoe, Skeen said.

Owens said Safe Kids Placer County is looking to become more involved in the eastern county, something that’s been absent in the group’s past.

“Now we’re really trying to make a conscious effort to be more involved in the Tahoe area,” Owens said. “That’s why we got involved with this event … we wanted to start getting up there and do some things.”

California state law requires children to be in a car seat or “appropriate child passenger restraint” in the back seat of a vehicle until they are at least six years old or weigh at least 60 pounds.

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