The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Pennsylvania State Police and the Pennsylvania Traffic Injury Prevention Project gathered at the Moshannon Valley YMCA to stress the importance of proper car seat use.
The partners hosted the press conference while observing Child Passenger Safety Week, which continues through Saturday, Sept. 25.
“It’s so critical and so important to have a child in a safe and appropriate car seat,” said Lori Rodriguez of Philipsburg, a volunteer at the Moshannon Valley YMCA and advocate for child passenger safety.
Lori’s daughter, Penny, had her life tragically cut short in a single-vehicle crash in Clearfield County on Sept. 21, 2020. She was just 33-months old.
Rodriguez shared her story at the press conference to raise public awareness on this traffic safety issue. “She was such a wonderful baby, and I want to keep her memory alive,” said Rodriguez.
Trooper Chris Fox, community services officer with PSP Troop G, offered an overview of Pennsylvania’s child passenger safety law. He explained the law mandates all children from birth to age four must be secured in a car seat anywhere in the vehicle.
Children younger than two must be secured in a rear-facing car seat. All children ages four years and older, but younger than eight years, must be secured in a seatbelt and an appropriate booster seat anywhere in the vehicle.
All children eight years of age and older, but younger than age 18, must be secured in a seatbelt system anywhere in the vehicle.
Trooper Bruce Morris, community services officer with PSP Troop C, said that PSP is hosting dozens of car seat checks across the region that are free of charge.
He provided a list of events taking place around the region. That list of events is available at www.psp.pa.gov.
Kelly Whitaker, North Central Regional coordinator for TIPP, praised Rodriguez and the Moshannon Valley YMCA for taking the first steps to becoming advocates for child passenger safety and said she looks forward to continuing their partnership in the future.
She said their first joint venture will be a CPS check at the facility on Friday, Sept. 24, from 3-6 p.m.
She said certified child passenger seat technicians will be on site to help parents and caregivers ensure the proper installation of their car seats.
She asked participants to have their car seat instructions and vehicle owner’s manual with them at the check.
Technicians will also distribute literature on Pennsylvania’s child passenger safety law and securing children in the appropriate car seat, she noted.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates there are misuses in nearly half (46 percent) of all car seat installations. Their data also shows car seats reduce the risk of fatal injury by 71 percent for infants and by 54 percent for toddlers when correctly installed.