As part of its annual “Save Me with a Seat” campaign, and in honor of National Child Passenger Safety Week, the Texas Department of Transportation and Texas AgriLife partnered with T.G. Givens Early Childhood Center to host a free child safety seat check-up event.

Monica Yates,TxDOT traffic safety specialist for TxDOT and Laura Graves, AgriLife Extension agent, visited with parents and discussed proper seat installation, using the seat correctly and registering seats with their manufacturers in case of a safety recall. They checked eight seats and five children received new seats.

While most people believe their children are properly buckled up, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points out that 46% of all car seats are misused. Last year in Texas, 62 children younger than 8 years old died in traffic crashes; 16 were unrestrained at the time of the crash. Among children ages 8 to 12, 56 died in traffic crashes that same year; 21 were unrestrained at the time of the crash.

Child car seats can reduce the risk of fatal injury in a crash by 71% for infants and by 54% for toddlers, according to the highway safety administration. TxDOT reminds drivers that Texas law requires all children under 8 — unless they are taller than 4 feet, 9 inches — to be in a car seat whenever they ride in a passenger vehicle. Failure to properly restrain a child can result in a ticket of up to $250.

The proper use of child safety seats reduces the risk of injury and death, leading to reduced medical costs, avoidance of lost future earnings and improved quality of life. These economic benefits are an estimated $2,159 per child age 0 to 4 and $2,606 per child age 4 to 7 for new seats distributed, and $622 per child for seat misuse corrected with an assumed 75% continued use. Children under age 13 should ride in the back seat, properly secured in a seat belt or safety seat.

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