Car Wrecks #1 Killer Of Texas Children - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/11/05

Car Wrecks #1 Killer Of Texas Children

Tyler, January 28: An Oldsmobile is broad sided, an infant ejected from the back seat.

Smith County, August 9: Six people not wearing their seat belts die in this head-on collision, two of them children. A 15-year-old, who was wearing her seatbelt, survived.

Stories like these should make every parent think twice before letting his or her child ride unrestrained. Still, six out of every ten children in Texas are not buckled up.

"A lot of the children, their parents say, well, they're taking the seat belt off, and I can't control it," Officer James McCraw, of the Tyler Police Department, said.

He says there's no excuse.

"Train them that the car won't go anywhere unless you have your seat belt on," he said.

Some kids, like Josh Holcomb, 11, have their seat belts on most of the time, but sometimes, they unbuckle.

"Like if I drop something over there and I can't reach," Holcomb said.

One dad says he usually puts his 1-year-old daughter in a child safety seat, but makes an exception every now and then.

"In fact, that's what we did today 'cause we thought we were taking a short trip," Austin Baldwin said. "We put her in a seat belt."

A seat belt is better than nothing, but police say, still not safe enough for a baby. Neither is holding a small child in your lap.

"In an accident, are they going to be able to hold the child? Probably not," McCraw said.

One of the most common problems officers see is parents don't know how to install their child safety seat properly. Many times the seat belt is too loose, which means the child is still not secure.

Whatever parents decide to do, police say it doesn't affect only them and their children.

"We all pay with our medical bills and increases in other areas," McCraw said. "Everybody's going to bear the brunt of these people that are not seat belting their children in."

Texas law requires children in the front or back seat to be buckled up until they are 17. Children under 4 and less than 36 inches tall must ride in a child safety seat. Parents can be fined up to $200 for violating the law.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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