Buckle up! SCDPS campaigns for proper car restraints for kids - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Buckle up! SCDPS campaigns for proper car restraints for kids


Startling accident statistics are just one of many reasons officials with the South Carolina Department of Public Safety are on a mission this week to get all children buckled up the right way.

Last year alone, 9,300 children were injured and nine children under the age of six were killed in car crashes across the state. SCDPS officials believe many of those tragedies could have been avoided if children were buckled up properly.

In conjunction with National Child Passenger Safety Week, DPS officials and South Carolina Highway Patrol (SCHP) troopers will be across the state to check the safety of your child's car seat. You may see some new billboards and also hear some reminders that it doesn't matter how far your drive is, having your children restrained correctly is crucial.

"A lot of people get the mentality that, ‘Hey, I'm only going to the store two miles down the road'," said Lance Corporal Brent Kelly with SCHP. "Most of our fatalities in South Carolina happen within five miles of the residence that they live at. Just because you're going around the block to the store to get milk or whatever, don't think it's okay just to put your child in the back seat not restrained," added Kelly.

Lance Cpl. Kelly says whether it's not taking the time, or just not knowing the law. This week officials will be making stops around the state to help.

"Nine times out of 10, if you are properly restrained [and] if your child is properly restrained, they will survive a crash," said Kelly.

That's something that Columbia mom Jessica Rucker says she always keeps in mind. "They call it an accident for a reason. You can't predict what's going to happen in a car and it's important for them to stay safe," said Rucker.

On Monday, Rucker, who is expecting her third child soon, was shopping with her four year-old daughter, two year-old son and her mom for another car seat. She says because her children are close in age, she hasn't been able to pass any of the seats along. She'll soon have three different car seat sizes in her car. "We are actually going to be exploring the option of just using the convertible seat that won't come out [of the car] from birth on up with the baby," said Rucker.

Authorities say whatever seat you find that works best for your family, make sure it matches state law from newborn to six years-old and sometimes older. "The law states once they turn they don't necessarily have to be in a child restraint seat, but we recommend until they get to that certain height keep them in it, just for safety purposes," said Lance Cpl. Kelly.

Kelly says regardless of age, a child is most likely ready to move out of a booster seat when they are at least 4'9'' tall and at least 80 pounds.

How do you know if you have the right seat for your child? BuckleupSC.com has the list of state laws and what the requirements are for each age group. (http://www.buckleupsc.com/safety_seat_law.asp)

Authorities say restraining your child properly is not only a potential life saver, but if you don't- it may also cost you financially.  "The fine for child restraint violation is 150 dollars," said Lance Cpl. Kelly. "As far as I know, that is a fine that ourselves and magistrates cannot reduce or anything. You come to court, and we're not going to be able to help you with it."

SCDPS says Highway Patrol issued 5,165 citations for child restraint violations last year. As of early September, troopers have already written nearly 4,000 tickets in 2012.

Officials say as they try to get the safety message out this week, they want you to come out to child safety seat check events they are having around the state. SCDPS will be in Columbia on Wednesday, September 19th from 4p.m. until 7p.m. at Palmetto Health Children's Hospital (7 Richland Medical Park).

If you miss Wednesday's event, Lance Cpl. Kelly says there are Certified Safety Seat Technicians at SCHP headquarters on Shop Road. He says you'll also find certified technicians statewide at many local police and fire departments.

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