Kansas law requires that every child be in a child restraint system until they reach age 8, weigh 80 pounds or stand 4 feet 9 inches tall. Every baby and every child must be in a safety seat every time they’re in a vehicle.
“We still see kids not restrained, just loose in the car,” said Lyda Kasselman, a certified safety seat technician with the Pratt Police Department.
There is ample evidence to support the law. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death to Kansas children and adults age 1-44, and correctly used child safety seats can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent, according to Safe Kids Kansas.
In a statewide effort to educate parents about the importance of car safety seats, Gov. Sam Brownback proclaimed Sept. 16-22 as Child Passenger Safety Week in Kansas.
Local agencies have for several years put an emphasis on child safety seats in May, with an event coordinated by the police department, county health department, Doug Reh Chevrolet, Pratt Kiwanis Club and Safe Kids coalition. Participation in the Saturday morning seat check has declined somewhat in recent years, Kasselman said, as more people realize she is available to check seats at other times.
“If you have questions or need instruction, come here (to the Law Enforcement Center) and I’m happy to help,” she commented.
Kasselman recommends that parents make an appointment by calling her at 672-5551, as the process takes about 15 minutes. She will check to see that seats are installed correctly — the most common mistake is not getting them secured tightly enough — and give instructions so parents are comfortable belting their little ones in.
Safe Kids estimates that 73 percent of car seats are not used correctly, and recommends that every parent take 15 minutes for an at-home checkup, using the following checklist:
• Right Seat. Check the label on the car seat to make sure it is appropriate for the child’s age, weight and height.
• Right Place. Keep all children in the back seat until they are 13.
• Right Direction. Keep the child in a rear-facing seat as long as possible, usually until around age 2. When he or she outgrows the seat, move the child to a forward-facing seat. Make sure to attach the top tether after tightening and lock the seat belt or lower anchors. Continue to use a booster seat until the child properly fits in the seat belt.
• Inch test. Once the car seat is installed, give it a good shake at the base. A properly installed seat will not move more than an inch, side to side or front to back.
Page 2 of 2 - •Pinch test. Make sure the harness is tightly buckled and coming from the correct slots (check the car seat manual). With the chest clip placed at armpit level, pinch the strap at the child’s shoulder. If you are unable to pinch any excess webbing, you’re good to go.
Kasselman noted that the recommendation for rear-facing seats has changed; it used to be one year, now it is two. It is a safety recommendation, but not a law.
It is a law that all children under age 18 must be restrained, no matter where they sit in a vehicle. Front seat passengers of all ages must use seat belts. Violation is a primary offense in Kansas, meaning that law enforcement can stop drivers for not buckling up or requiring their passengers to do so.