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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Media Contact: Melanie Stokes
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6623

Child Safety Seats Save Lives
Parents Encouraged to Check for Proper Installation

RICHMOND - The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is encouraging parents of young children to have their child's safety seat inspected as part of National Child Passenger Safety Week, September 21 through 27. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seven out of every 10 child safety seats are either the wrong size for the child or seriously misused, reducing their effectiveness in a crash.

"It's the responsibility of every driver to make sure everyone in their vehicle is safely restrained - every trip, every time," said John Saunders, Director of DMV's Virginia Highway Safety Office. "When it comes to the safety of a child, there is no room for mistakes. I urge everyone to get their child safety seats inspected."

Virginia law requires children from birth to 12 months to ride in a child safety seat facing the rear. Children ages 1 through 3 should ride in a safety seat facing forward. Children 4 to 8 years old weighing more than 40 pounds should be restrained in a belt-positioning booster seat.

A new law took effect July 1, 2008 making the penalties for repeat violators of Virginia's child restraint law more stringent. First time offenders will continue to be subject to a civil penalty of $50, but those convicted of a second or subsequent violation on different dates could pay a civil penalty of up to $500.

Here are some tips to help drivers ensure a safe ride for their young passengers:

  • Each child should be securely restrained in one car seat, booster seat or seat belt. Individuals not buckled up can be thrown from the car or around inside the car and become seriously injured.
  • Make sure that the safety seat fits the child, the vehicle, any special needs of the child and that it is used correctly every time.
  • Check safety seat labels for weight and height limitations, which will assist in picking the safety seat that is right for the child.
  • Each child safety seat needs a safety belt or LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) to hold it in place. Check the safety seat directions and the vehicle owner's manual for basic instructions.
  • The child safety seat must be secured tightly against the vehicle seat back. There should be no more than one inch of side to side or forward movement of the safety seat after installation.
  • Use the correct slots on the safety seat for your child: at or slightly below the rear facing infant's shoulders, at or slightly above the forward facing toddler's shoulders.
  • Harness straps should be on the child's shoulders, not arms. Keep the straps flat on the child's shoulders and snug enough to keep the child from moving forward.
  • Place the harness retainer clip at armpit level on the child.

Visit www.SafetySeatVA.org for more information about the Virginia Department of Health's Child Safety Seat Program, including upcoming safety seat inspection events.

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