With safety experts saying three out of four child car seats are installed incorrectly, local law enforcement and McMinnville Noon Exchange teamed up Tuesday to hold a child seat safety inspection.
The free service was offered at the Children’s Advocacy Center parking lot on Sparta Street. Certified inspection officers from McMinnville Police Department and the Highway Patrol were on hand to inspect seats and give parents pointers on how to properly restrain their children. The event was held as part of Child Passenger Safety Week.
“We want to make sure our children are safe and one of the first ways we can do that is to make sure they are properly restrained,” said Noon Exchange Club president Ashley Wright. “I think a lot of parents will be able to benefit from the information that’s provided at the safety checkpoint.”
According to Michele Harris, director of traffic safety for AAA, parents often miss the mark when it comes to correctly protecting their children.
“Too often we see kids who are in a car seat that’s install incorrectly or not using an age-appropriate booster seat,” she said.
One of the most frequent mistakes comes with positioning the harness straps. If the straps are too loose, children will not be properly restrained in the event of a crash. Experts say harness straps should not have any twists. They should also be snug around the child’s shoulders.
In Tennessee, once a child reaches age 4, they can ride in a booster seat. They generally remain in the seat until age 8, although the requirement is the child must be at least 4-foot-9 before graduating to a normal seatbelt.
The use of booster seats can reduce injuries by 45 percent compared to using an adult safety belt, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Representatives from Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department and McMinnville Fire Department were also on hand for Tuesday afternoon’s event. The certified officers not only inspected how belts were being used in vehicles but they offered pointers on ways to go about strapping children in before taking to the road.
Wright said given the big turnout for the inaugural event, Noon Exchange will try to sponsor other events in the future.
“This is something our club wants to make a regular event,” Wright said. She added that those wanting their seat inspected by a certified inspector may contact McMinnville Fire Department where firefighter Kevin Sparkman is certified. Call 473-3435 to make an appointment.