PennDOT is inviting parents and caregivers to make this holiday season a safer one by taking advantage of free car seat checks across the state that will complement the nationwide Click It or Ticket “Operation Safe Holiday” enforcement effort occurring from Nov. 20 through Dec. 4.
Troopers and other department members certified as child passenger safety technicians will conduct no-cost car seat fittings, at various locations through Nov. 27, no appointment necessary. Car seats will be checked for suitability, and participants will receive instruction on proper installation and child restraint. For a complete list of child passenger seat fitting stations, visit www.psp.pa.gov, said a PennDOT press release.
“Seat-belts and child passenger safety seats save lives when used properly,” Maj. Edward Hoke, director of the Pennsylvania State Police Bureau of Patrol, said in the release. “Troopers will be issuing citations for seat-belt and child seat violations as part of the enforcement effort, but other focuses of ‘Operation Safe Holiday’ are education and prevention.”
Under Pennsylvania law, children under the age of 4 must be properly restrained in an approved child safety seat. A new provision, signed into law this summer, mandates that children under 2 be secured in a rear-facing car seat. Children from age 4 to 8 must use an appropriate booster seat.
Children ages 8 to 18 must wear a seat-belt when riding anywhere in a vehicle, and all drivers and front-seat passengers 18 and older are required to buckle up.
“Part of PennDOT’s mission is to educate the public on safety concerns and encourage them to do the right thing to protect themselves and their families, PennDOT Secretary Leslie S. Richards said in the release. “This holiday season we’ll work with law enforcement to urge travelers to always buckle up and never drive impaired by drugs or alcohol.”
During enforcement operations, law enforcement will conduct seat belt and impaired driving enforcement simultaneously because unbelted and impaired driving crashes are shown to be significant contributors to traffic injuries and deaths, especially during nighttime hours
According to PennDOT data, during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period in 2015, including the weekend before and after the holiday as well as the day itself, 4,029 crashes and 45 fatalities in those crashes occurred statewide. The Christmas and New Year’s travel periods, including the weekend before Christmas, New Year’s and the weekend after, saw 4,985 crashes and 46 fatalities.
Additionally, during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays last year, 1,209 of the statewide crashes involved a driver impaired by drugs or alcohol, with 38 fatalities in those crashes. In that same period, there were 1,076 crashes with unbuckled occupants, with 48 fatalities in those crashes.
Officials also encouraged travelers to use the SaferRide app. The app, developed in 2014 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in an effort to curb drunk driving, is available for free on Android and Apple devices and is a great option to facilitate a safe ride home after you’ve been drinking. Once the app is downloaded, you can use it to call a taxi or a friend by identifying your location so you can be picked up.
The holiday seat-belt and DUI enforcement are funded by part of PennDOT’s statewide distribution of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration enforcement monies this federal fiscal year. For more information on PennDOT’s highway safety efforts visit, www.penndot.gov/safety.