Car Seat Safety

It could mean the difference between life and death in a car accident, having car seats installed properly. Eight out of ten car seats are not properly installed. That's why today, the Tyler Police Department hosted a Safety Rider training course to certify a new class of child seat experts.

Officer Gordon Stanford is a certified Car Seat Specialist with the Tyler Police Department. He said, "We've seen kids, ejected from vehicles. We've seen kids, that have not been properly secured, not only be ejected, but hit the back windshield. It's not something I like to think about."

Stanford is one of just three Tyler police officers certified to properly install your child's car seat. He took the four day training course seventeen others are going through today. Now, he helps parents avoid some of the most common car seat mistakes.

"One of the most common is either not having the seat secured by the seat belt system in the car, or not having the child secured by the actual child safety seats," Stanford said.

Cars made before 1996 require a special lock to keep the seats from moving around. Once the lock's in place, the seat will be secure.

Children need to be in a seat that's right for their height and size. Infant carriers are best for children from birth to 20 or 25 pounds. Convertible seats can protect a child weighing as much as 65 pounds. And booster seats are for children under 4'9" or 80 pounds. They shouldn't graduate to a regular seat belt until it hits them in the right place.

"At the hip bone, not riding up against the tummy, and the shoulder strap should center the chest and not rub against the neck," Stanford said.

With all the car seats on the market it's easy to get overwhelmed, but don't. They all pass the same national safety standards. It's really a matter of taking the time to have someone show you how to use it properly.

"If you value your child life, you should take the time, okay. Just a simple fender bender could kill your child if they're not properly restrained," Stanford said.

They stress no matter what car seat your child is in, the safest place for them is always in the back seat.

The Safe Riders graduates are offering free car seat installations and inspections tomorrow. It's in the parking lot of Toys R Us in Tyler from 2 to 4. That's at 414 Loop 323.

Lindsay Wilcox, reporting