LAFAYETTE — Tomorrow, parents and child-care givers in Louisiana will have a chance to have their child safety seats installed in their vehicles by certified technicians for free at nine locations during National Seat Check Saturday.
Certified technicians can help parents and caregivers make sure they are in compliance with the new child safety seat law that went into effect on August 1. The new law generally keeps children from prematurely graduating to the next level of restraint, which will keep them more protected for a longer period of time.
During National Seat Check Saturday, anyone who transports a child in a vehicle can take the child safety seat to one of nine locations to ensure the seat is the right one for the child's age, height, and weight and that the seat is properly installed in the vehicle. The technicians will not be selling or giving away safety seats. Anyone who wants to have a car seat installed must take their own safety seat and vehicle to the location.
The locations, which will be staffed on Saturday, September 21 from 9 a.m. to noon, are:
Baton Rouge Police Department, 9000 Airline Hwy., Baton Rouge, LA 70806
Divine Mercy Church, 4337 Sal Lentini Pkwy., Kenner, LA 70065
Rouses Market, 5818 W. Main St., Houma, LA 70360
Southwest Beverage Co., 3860 Broad St., Lake Charles, LA 70615
Rapides Regional Medical Center, 211 Fourth St., Alexandria, LA 71301
Banner Ford, 6300 Frontage Rd., Monroe, LA 71202
Sheriff's Safety Town, 8910 Jewella Ave., Shreveport, LA 71118
Cajun Harley-Davidson, 724 I-10 South Frontage Rd., Scott, LA 70583
Walmart, 880 N. Highway 190, Covington, LA 70433
Lisa Freeman, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, urges anyone who transports a child in a vehicle to take advantage of National Seat Check Saturday.
"According to national child safety experts, Louisiana has the best law in the nation when it comes to protecting our children in vehicles, but that's just half of the story," Freeman said. "We have to make sure the child seats and booster seats are properly installed and properly utilized to protect children in a motor vehicle crash."
A 2018 Louisiana observational survey commissioned by LHSC suggests that nearly every child under the age of 12 months was traveling in a child safety seat, however, that percentage drops as children grow older. The survey indicates that 91% of children aged 1 to 3 years old were restrained and 88% of children aged 6 to 12 years old were restrained. Children aged 4 to 5 years old had the least observed usage rate at only 77%. The survey could not determine if the child seats were properly installed.
According to the NTSB, infants and toddlers should ride in rear-facing seats until they reach the maximum weight or height allowed by the car manufacturer. Toddlers and preschoolers should use a forward-facing seat if they've outgrown the weight or height limit for a rear-facing seat. School-aged children should be in a belt-postitioning booster seat until they vehicle seat belt fits properly. All children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat.
National Seat Check Saturday is the culminating event of Child Passenger Safety Week, a campaign sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration dedicated to helping parents and caregivers make sure their children ride as safely as possible - every trip, every time.
Louisiana's 147 SONIC Drive-ins raised $60,000 to provide free and professionally installed car seats for children in needy families statewide.
SONIC partnered with University Medical Center New Orleans and the Louisiana Passenger Safety Task Force.
Seats were awarded to eligible recipients on a first come, first served basis while funds lasted.
On Aug. 1, new child car seat laws went into effect in Louisiana.