As cars pulled into the Middletown Township Police Headquarters Friday, many motorists were concerned about their child and their child’s safety seat as they quickly opened up their back passenger doors showing officers their seats.
Some asked questions as to whether the seat was installed properly, if their child was too big for a seat or where the seat can be installed while some let the officers get right to work ensuring that child safety seats were properly installed.
Through September, Middletown Township Police Officers, who are trained as child passenger safety technicians, will assist motorists with proper child safety seat installation and positioning in the car. They began the program in May.
Officers check anywhere from 20 to 50 car seats in a session, looking for the secureness of the seat, how well the set fits the child, if the child is too big or too small for the seat and harness and strap placement.
“In a crash or even when they are not in a crash, without proper installation the child could get hurt,” said Ptl. Nick Caprio.
If the seat is insecure the passenger could wander around the car or fall out of their seat, Caprio said.
Child safety seats can reduce fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers, ages 1 through 4, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Inspecting five types of child car seats, Cpl. Cliff O’Hara and Caprio stop cars as they go by first looking at the positioning of the seat and the secureness.
Then they adjust the seat and place stickers on the rear passenger window and an emergency information sticker on the bottom or side of the car, depending on the seat’s make and position.
There is no universal way to install a car seat but with training, the seamless installed seats as motorists and their children watched.
Within five to seven minutes, motorists were back on the road but with a more secure seat inspected by police.
Training to become a child safety seat technician is an ongoing task, O’Hara said.
During a one-week class officers had to demonstrate they were able to install a variety of car seats including convertible, forward facing, high back and backless booster seats, O’Hara said.
After they have completed the course, in order to become certified they must pass a test and every two years, they must be able to demonstrate their ability to properly reinstall the seat to become recertified.
Middletown is only one of two places where motorists can check their child’s safety seat checked. The other is at the Child Passenger Safety Station at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.
The checkpoint program is funded through a grant from the state Division of Highway Traffic Safety. Please remember state law requires that all children below the age of 8 years or less than 80 lbs. in weight must be seated in a child restraint system.
Contact the Traffic Safety Bureau at 732-615-2045 to schedule an appointment for safety seat checks.
Here are from safety tips from the Middletown Police Department:
- Never put a rear-facing child in a front seat with an active frontal air bag. A back seat is generally the safest place for kids of any age.
- Choose the right child safety seat or safety belt for your child’s size and age.
- Send in the child safety seat registration card to be notified in case it is recalled. If you have questions about recalls, call the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov or call 888-DASH-2-DOT.
- Use the correct child safety seat belt path or LATCH system.
- Check your vehicle and child safety seat instructions to see how to lock your child safety seat in place and if you need any special installation hardware.
- Get a tight fit – an installed child safety seat should not move more than one inch from side to side or towards the front of the vehicle.
- Make sure your child is snugly secured by the safety sear harnesses or safety belt, according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- Replace any safety seat that has been involved in a crash.