Most people who drive with young kids in the car make safety their top priority. But it wouldn't hurt to get some extra help from the experts.
That's the message from State Police and PennDOT as the agencies are holding events throughout the state for National Child Passenger Safety Week. It starts this Sunday, Sept. 15.
The checkups are designed to teach drivers the proper installation and use of child safety seats.
In addition, Saturday, Sept. 21, has been designated as "National Seat Check Saturday."
PennDOT funds resources such as training and educational materials for 145 fitting stations across Pennsylvania, at which more than 5,000 car seats were checked last year.
"Our first priority must be to protect the safety of our most precious cargo every time we get behind the wheel," Pennsylvania State Police Lieutenant Col. George Bivens said.
Each of the department's troops will conduct at least one safety seat check during the week.
"Child safety seats will save lives, but only when they are installed and used properly," Bivens said.
Pennsylvania law requires that children under the age of four ride in a federally-approved car seat that is appropriate for the child's age, height and weight.
Children between the ages of four and eight must use a booster seat if they are no longer in a car seat.
The state's seat belt law mandates that children ages 8 to 17 must use a seat belt, and violating this law is a primary offense. It is a secondary offense for drivers and front seat passengers age 18 and older to travel unbuckled.
Because of the potential dangers associated with air bag deployment, children ages 12 and under should always ride in a vehicle's back seat.
The State Police Bureau of Patrol also offered the following tips:
Read and follow the car seat and vehicle manufacturers' instructions
Use the car's seat belt to anchor the seat to the car unless you are using a child safety seat with the LATCH system
Fill out and return the registration card for your seat so you'll know if it is recalled because of a problem
Make sure the seat's harness fits snugly
Use a tether strap if the seat requires it
For more information on car seat safety and to get a list of state police car seat safety inspection locations and dates, click on the "Public Safety" link at Pennsylvania State Police.
For a list of PennDOT-supported car seat checks and see how PennDOT promotes child passenger safety, visit Just Drive PA then "Traffic Safety Information Center" and "Child Passenger Safety."