Car seat inspections to be held at Target parking lot

HARLINGEN — A study by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute found nearly 40 percent of children riding in Texas vehicles are either improperly buckled or not buckled at all.

The study, conducted in the spring of 2014, observed more than 13,500 Texas children across 14 cities. Of the children observed, 61 percent were properly buckled into a safety seat while 25 percent were not.

Another 14 percent of children in Texas vehicles were not buckled at all.

To combat this issue, the Harlingen Police Department encourages anyone with a car seat to take part in a car seat inspection event.

The event will take place Friday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Target parking lot, 1002 Dixieland Road.

They also will be hosting a Child Passenger Safety Technician course today at the city of Harlingen Emergency Operations & Training Center off of FM 509.

Instructors from around the state will be involved in the training and instruction. Training participants include nurses, firefighters, police officers, state health and services employees and interested civilians.

“The law in Texas requires all children younger than 8 years old, unless they are taller than 4 feet, 9 inches, to be in a child safety seat whenever they ride in a passenger vehicle,” said John Barton, Texas Department of Transportation deputy executive director.

“If they’re not, the driver will be ticketed or fined. For the safety of your child and for your own peace of mind, we strongly encourage you to take advantage of these free safety seat checks.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates roughly three out of four child safety seats are not used correctly.

Common child safety seat mistakes include installing the seat too loosely, putting the harness straps through the wrong slots, leaving harness straps too loose, positioning the chest clip incorrectly and using the wrong seat belt path.

TxDOT encourages drivers to always refer to their specific child safety seat manufacturer’s manual for instructions on how to install the safety seat.