State police, PennDOT check child passenger seats for safety

YOUNG TOWNSHIP — “Too loose” is the way troopers from Punxsutawney-based Pennsylvania State Police describe the No. 1 problem when parents and care givers install child passenger safety seats in their vehicles.

State police and PennDOT joined together to hold free child passenger safety seat checkups last week, as both agencies marked National Child Passenger Safety Week.

"Most of the seats that are incorrectly installed have almost everything right, except that often the seat itself is too loose where it connects to the seatbelt in the vehicle," said Cpl. Kurtis Rummel, Pennsylvania State Police child safety seat technician, at a child safety seat inspection that was held Friday at Walmart in Young Township.

According to PennDOT, "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 4 and 8 must use booster seats if they are no longer in a car seat.

"The change in seats is not driven by weight — it is determined by a child's age," Rummel said, adding that state law requires that children under the age of 4 ride in a federally approved car seat that is appropriate for the child's age, height and weight.

"Following the directions on how to install a car seat may be confusing, especially for first-time parents," he said. "However, Punxsutawney Area Hospital has a child seat technician, and they teach the proper installation before a newborn is allowed to go home."

Sarah Peterson, of Rochester Mills, brought her daughter Harper to the safety seat inspection station because she thought her child safety seat should be tighter.

Rummel said the state’s seatbelt law mandates that children ages 8 to 17 must use a seatbelt, and violating this law is a primary offense.

Rummel said that even though National Child Passenger Safety Week has concluded, parents and caregivers can still bring their seats over to the Punxsutawney barracks on North Findley Street, and a technician will check them out anytime throughout the year.

He said anyone who has a seat that requires inspection should call ahead of time at 938-0510 to make sure a technician is available to inspect the seat installation.

Rummel was assisted by Tpr. Mark Schrecngost, also a child safety technician, at Friday's inspection.

According to PennDOT, "In 2011, nine children, from newborns to age 8, lost their lives in vehicle crashes in the state.

"Another 2,487 children were injured," according to the report.