Fifty years ago, infants were placed on a car seat or held by another individual while riding in a car. Many lives have been saved when car seats for infants and children became law. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration states 96-percent of parents believe they are using their car seat properly. Nebraska State Trooper Keith Bell says that isn’t the case.
“Approximately 80 percent of all child seats are installed incorrectly. That doesn’t mean they are loose in the back of the seat. It could be several different things. The best thing I tell parents is to use your owner’s manual to your seat in conjunction with the owner’s manual of your motor vehicle. That should help you out and if not, that is what we are here for. We are here to help educate parents on how to install the seat properly.”
Different agencies across the state often provide car seat checks to make sure they are being used properly. Now there is a permanent fitting station in Omaha. Trooper Bell says they offer more than just checks.
“We have seats that are available to purchase at a discount rate or if someone is in financial distress we could give them a seat. If they are financially distress they have to prove that by showing some kind of paperwork for that. The fitting station is basically in the garage at our office at 4411 South 108th Street – Omaha. Every installation must be done by appointment.”
It is not an uncommon practice to re-use car seats. For example, grandparents may purchase one at a garage sale so they have one on hand or are given one by a friend or neighbor. Trooper Bell says there is a little known fact about child safety seats…. they do expire.
“Every seat, six years from the manufacturing date, is expired. You need to go out and purchase a new seat. Also, if a seat has been involved in a motor vehicle crash 35-miles an hour or over, it is probably recommended you get new seat but before you do that, bring it into a technician and let one of us look over it and make sure there are no cracks in the shell or stress fractures.”
Trooper Bell says the State Patrol even has a program in place to take those expired car seats off your hands.
“After about 6 years, turn those seats in. You can bring them to our office and we have services available that if you have an old seat we can assist you with that. We turn them in and recycle them through a church in Gretna we have a partnership with or we can get together with technicians and we have a recycling method as well.”
The fitting station is courtesy of AAA Nebraska.
The station in Omaha is located at the Troop A-Omaha Headquarters, 4411 South 108th Street in Omaha.