► Motor vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death among children in the United States. But many of these deaths can be prevented.
► In the United States, 723 children ages 12 years and younger died as occupants in motor vehicle crashes during 2016, and more than 128,000 were injured in 2016.
► In one year, more than 618,000 children ages 0-12 rode in vehicles without the use of a child safety seat or booster seat or a seat belt at least some of the time.
► Of the children ages 12 years and younger who died in a crash in 2016 (for which restraint use was known), 35% were not buckled up.
Local law enforcement agencies team up with the District Attorney’s Office, ICPYC to offer new Car Seat Diversion Program
Pictured (from left) are NCHP Trooper A. M. Rorabaugh, ICSO Sgt L. J. Hayes, TPD Officer J. Dagenhart, Iredell County District Attorney Sarah Kirkman, Iredell County Partnership For Young Children Child Care Health Consultant Missy Jablonski, ICPYC Parent Educator Joanne Rogers, SPD Officer Ben Hardy, MPD. Cpl. J. H. Dingler, and NCHP Trooper K. D. Allred.
Special to SVLfreenews.com
Representatives from the Statesville Police Department, Troutman Police Department, Mooresville Police Department, Iredell County Sheriff’s Office, N.C. Highway Patrol, Iredell County Partnership for Young Children, and the Iredell County District Attorney’s Office met at the Iredell County Partnership for Young Children’s this week to kick off a new traffic safety program.
The new Car Seat Diversion Program is intended to help educate drivers about the laws and the importance of properly restraining children in motor vehicles, specifically drivers who receive citations for unrestrained or improperly restrained children in Iredell County.
After serving in the SPD Traffic Unit for over ten years, Officer Ben Hardy became frustrated with the number of accidents he has responded to where children were unnecessarily injured due to not being properly restrained in a vehicle. He had an idea that he hoped could make a difference through education and accountability.
The idea was for officers who are issuing a citation for a child restraint related violation to provide additional materials to the driver that offers them the ability to have the charge dismissed by contacting a participating agency and meeting with a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, who would verify the driver has the correct car seat for their child and the knowledge of how to properly install it.
Hardy took the idea to the Iredell County District Attorney’s Office, where he met with District Attorney Sarah Kirkman and Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Floyd, who were immediately on board. Hardy contacted the other local law enforcement agencies to see if they would be interested in being part of the program and also reached out to Iredell County Partnership For Young Children, a local resource for child safety and education services.
Representatives from the SPD, TPD, MPD, ICSO, NCHP, the District Attorney’s Office and ICPYC met several times over the past year to coordinate the literature, forms and procedures for the new Car Seat Diversion Program.
After making an appointment, the driver is required to bring the ticket, correct car seat, vehicle and child to the appointment, where the officer will confirm that the car seat meets the safety requirements for the age and weight of the child. The officer will also confirm that the car seat has not had any safety recalls and will demonstrate the proper installation and how to properly secure the safety belts when the child is in the seat. Before the officer signs off on the paperwork, they will remove the car seat and the driver must install the seat and secure the child. If all the requirements are met, the officer will fill out a Child Restraint Inspection Court System Verification Form that the driver will then take to the District Attorney’s office and the ticket will be dismissed.
Hardy is also working to get the SPD certified as a Permanent Child Safety Checkpoint through the Buckle Up! NC initiative, which is part of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program. As a permanent checkpoint, there will be someone available at a specified time and day each month so that citizens can stop by without an appointment to receive assistance and education pertaining to child safety seats. The program also provides car seats that officers can distribute in the community.
The child safety seat education and assistance services are always available to citizens by contacting your local law enforcement agency or ICPYC and scheduling an appointment to meet with a Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician. Most agencies also offer several Child Passenger Safety Demonstration events throughout the year that offer child safety seat installation assistance and the chance to meet the local traffic officers and ask questions.