Vidalia, Lyons police get child safety training - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Police officers get child safety training

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VIDALIA, GA (WTOC) -

Police officers such as Sgt. Art Villegas of Lyons Police frequently see children riding in cars without child restraints.

"One person didn't have any kind (of seat) with them. We stopped and waited for someone to bring them one," he said.

Toombs County's Safe Kids Coalition estimates only about 30 percent of parents use child seats. They've taken the message to schools, churches and other sites to teach parents the requirements.

"Many parents don't know the laws that require a child to be in a seat until they're eight years old," stated Safe Kids' Bonnie Brantley. "The best practice is to leave them in the seat until they're eighty pounds or 4'9" tall."

But knowing if a seat is properly installed takes a more careful look by police and parents. The Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute reports 80 percent of Georgia care seats aren't attached correctly. According to their statistics, using the correct restraints reduces infants' and toddlers' chances for fatal injury by 71 percent and 54 percent in passenger cars respectively.

A dozen officers from Lyons Police, Vidalia Police and other departments will spend a week getting the training to spot safety problems. They learn the different types of seat belts in the generations of cars on the road today. They also learn how different seats secure into different makes and models of vehicles.

"With this training, these officers can be a valuable resource to parents and care givers," explained Andrew Turnage of GTIPI.

Brantley said the coalition cautions parents not to pass car seats from generation to generation.

"Car seats have a expiration date of about six years. Some are slightly longer. But the plastic ages just like a dashboard when its sitting in the sun. Plastic will crack over time and car seats are made of plastic," she said.

She said they also warn parents not to buy car seats from yard sales, thrift shops, or other second-hand markets. She said parents don't get the paperwork on the seat, don't know how old it might be, or if it has been recalled.

The newly-certified officers and their instructors will offer free inspections of car seats at the Vidalia Walmart on Highway 292 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Friday.

Other information from the Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute website:

• In 2010, 655 children (age 12 and younger in a passenger vehicle) were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes, 64% of whom were restrained.
• Also in 2010, an estimated 119,000 children (age 12 and younger in a passenger vehicle) were injured in motor vehicle traffic crashes.
• In 2009, 161 Hispanic children (age 12 and younger in a passenger vehicle) were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
• 3 out of 4 kids are not as secure in the car as they should be because their car seats are not being used correctly.

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