Pennsylvania finds problems with child safety seats

John Egan

More than three-fourths of child safety seats checked by Pennsylvania state troopers during a recent two-week enforcement campaign weren't installed correctly, according to Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan.

State troopers inspected 319 child safety seats at 45 locations statewide during a "Click It or Ticket" effort that ran from May 23 to June 5. Noonan says Pennsylvania troopers found that 246 of those car seats (77 percent) were installed improperly.

The Pennsylvania findings are in line with statistics cited by Safe Kids USA. The nonprofit organization says that in a study of 3,442 child restraint systems in six states, 73 percent of the seats showed at least one critical misuse. All 50 states and the District Columbia have laws requiring some sort of restraints for young children traveling in cars.

"Child passenger safety seat restraint systems save lives, but only when they are used properly," Noonan says. "Our troopers typically find a high percentage of problems with the installation of child safety seats when we offer voluntary inspections."

Noonan says common problems with child safety seats include:

• Failing to securely anchor the child seat to the vehicle's seat. • Failing to use the safety seat harness to hold the child in the seat. • Putting the car seat in the wrong direction.

Child safety seats reduce fatal injuries in car crashes by 72 percent for infants younger than 1 year old and by 54 percent for toddlers ages 1 to 4, according to Safe Kids USA.

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