State Police Commissioner Paul J. Evanko today announced free inspections of child passenger safety seats for parents next week as part of “Operation ABC: Mobilizing America to Buckle Up Children.”

“We’re encouraging drivers to buckle up and to make sure all of their passengers are properly restrained,” Evanko said. “Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for children 15 and younger. Tragically, nearly six of every 10 children killed in crashes are unbuckled.”

Evanko said each State Police troop will conduct at least two child safety-seats inspections. At those inspections, troopers assisted by Pennsylvania Department of Transportation technicians will inspect child safety seats and provide information to parents on proper use of those seats. Interested persons should contact their local State Police station for the date and location of the nearest inspection. All inspection locations will be listed as of Monday, May 22, on the State Police website.

Evanko said May 22-29 is “Buckle Up America! Week,” a national effort to promote the use of safety belts and child restraint systems. “Surveys indicate that about 70 percent of drivers in Pennsylvania used their seatbelts last year,” Evanko said. “That’s an increase of about 3 percent from 1998, but it means that three of 10 Pennsylvanians still are not buckling up.”

Evanko noted that during past inspections of child safety seats, troopers have found that most child safety seats are not correctly installed in the vehicles.

“These child safety seats can save lives, but only when used properly,” Evanko said.

Pennsylvania law requires that children under 4 years old be securely fastened in an approved child restraint seat while traveling in a vehicle. In addition, drivers and all front-seat passengers ages 4 and older must wear a properly adjusted and fastened seatbelt.

Penalties for violating the law include a fine and costs of about $93.

“Our goal is to make everyone aware that seat belts and child safety seats save lives,” Evanko said. “They are by far your best protection in a crash.”

He offered the following tips to motorists:

Be a good role model for your children and buckle up;
Have children 12 and under ride in the back seat whenever possible; and
Never place an infant in a rear-facing infant seat in front of an airbag.
Contact: Jack J. Lewis or Tpr. Lucien R. Southard, 717-783-5556, of the Pennsylvania State Police Department.