The Union Recorder

February 5, 2014

MPD ensures safety of children

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE —

In just 30 minutes, parents of young children can learn how to properly secure their child in a car seat to help keep the child protected in a car accident and possibly prevent injuries and even death. The Milledgeville Police Department is kicking off its child seat safety checks Saturday to ensure parents are knowledgeable about the current requirements and feel more at ease of their child’s safety while on the road.

“A lot of times when we stop people for traffic violations or are at a wreck, the car seat may have worked, but it’s not installed properly,” said Maj. John Davis of the MPD. “Sometimes the car seat is not even hooked in at all; that’s what we’re trying to avoid.”

Georgia law requires children under the age of 8 to be fastened in an approved age-appropriate child car seat or booster seat while riding in the back seat of a vehicle. The car seat or booster seat must be appropriate for the child’s height and weight, meet all federal standards and installed per the manufacturer’s instructions.

“From my experience in [Milledgeville], about 95 percent of the children that I have come in contact with have not been properly restrained, if they were restrained at all. Last year we wrote 264 citations on child safety seats from birth through age 18 in the city,” said Sgt. Thomas Smith, a nationally certified child passenger safety technician. “We try to educate parents, but some parents are not open to it. Under the Georgia child passenger safety law, the first conviction is $50, and the second conviction and every one after is $100, but it’s up to the officer’s discretion if they issue a citation.”

Located at 125 W. McIntosh St., MPD will hold child safety seat checks from noon until 6 p.m. Saturday, rain or shine, and will continue on a bi-monthly schedule for the remainder of the year. Checks take about 30 minutes and parents are welcome to stop by during the specified times, but are encouraged to make appointments. The police department is unable to provide any child safety seats at this time.

Here’s what parents need to bring to the car seat safety check:

• child safety seat

• child (if possible)

• child safety seat manual

• vehicle in which child safety seat will be installed

• vehicle manual

Smith and a certified community volunteer will be on site to check the child seats for proper fit, expiration and any recalls that may exist. There will also be staff available to assist Spanish-speaking parents.

“It’s becoming very hard to acquire resources to do a large-scale check,” Smith said. “We decided to try to do individual car seat checks this year and figured it would benefit the community a lot more to have it available throughout the year rather than just once.”

For more information about the car seat checks or to make an appointment, call 478-414-4081, or email Smith at tsmith@milledgevillepd.com.