Approximately 27 child safety seats out of 45 cars checked at Saturday's safety check event were in need of replacement. The statistics underscore the government's assertion that approximately 70 percent of child car safety seats are improperly installed and used.
The public service event was advertised through electronic road signs and through the Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children. Cars were diverted into the service bays at Ceres Fire Station #3 on Service Road -it was predicted to rain - where approximately 50 personnel and volunteers checked car seats. They included volunteers, police explorers, Ceres firefighters and police officers, California Highway Patrol officers, Stanislaus County Sheriff's deputies, personnel from Doctors Medical Center, County Health and Modesto Police Department.
"In the event people didn't have either a proper car seat or their car seat was outdated, or if it didn't fit the child, then we had car seats that we would give to them," said Ceres Police traffic division officer Keith Kitcher. "We don't advertise it as a car seat giveaway because then everybody comes and gets free car seats."
The majority of the car seats checked on Saturday were not installed properly, asserted Kitcher, because of lack of knowledge.
"Parents don't understand all the different mechanisms and latch, where the seat belt comes through, things like that so we would educate them on how to properly install them," he said.
Forward-facing child seats today have two straps that attach to hidden clips between the seats of cars made after 2002, one strap that attaches to a restraint clip on the back shelf of the car and a belt that loops into the back of the car seat.
Rear-facing seats are required for all infants up to 12 months of age.
Some of the car seats were cross-referenced with an internet data base to check to see if some models were recalled.
Leading up to the event, an estimated 25 of the 50 personnel took a weeklong class conducted by the CHP that allowed Ceres Police Department to become certified as car seat technicians through National Car Seat Safety certification under the auspices of Safe Kids, a government funded program, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Kitcher said the event was supported by Cost Less Foods which donated snacks and drinks while Subway on Whitmore Avenue at Crows Landing Road donated platters of sandwiches.
A detailed narrative on the correct type of equipment is available at www.dmv.org.