Improper installation is dangerous, and it’s also illegal. If you’re stopped by law enforcement without a car seat (when required), or an improperly installed car seat, you may receive a citation to go to the Bradley County Health Department for a visit with Laura Moore.
Moore is the supervisor of the Car Seat Program, which gives away about 30 seats per month to the less fortunate, and provides instruction for seat installation. Moore is a certified car-seat technician, and supervises the program at the health department.
The Car Seat Program has been ongoing for about 10 years, although funds were not available for the program in 2011. It was reinstated this year.
Many participants in the Women, Infants and Children Program are eligible to receive free car seats, which are installed every Tuesday and Thursday. Each family qualifies for one car seat per child. Moore provides the seats for about 350 parents or caregivers each year, but that is only a portion of her responsibilities.
Prospects for a seat must fill out an application at the health department to qualify.
Moore makes a schedule of individuals who qualify, and they must come to the health department to pick the seat up and receive instruction. In addition to Moore being a certified instructor, the health department is also a certified installation location, or fitting station.
Moore emphasized she is very much involved with Gov. Bill Haslam’s Highway Safety Program. She has been with the Car Seat Program for seven years and has installed thousands of car seats, and instructed thousands of others.
Moore said she is required to update her certification every two years, but usually does it annually. She said there are many changes year to year, due to design changes in vehicles and car seats.
The program director gives credit to Bradley County Health Department Director Eloise Waters for the success of the local program. “She saw early on how important it is to properly instruct parents and caregivers on the correct procedure of installation and use of car seats,” she said.
In addition to working with offenders cited by law enforcement for the lack of a car seat or improper usage, Moore also assists with roadblocks that check vehicles for violations.
In addition to being properly installed, state seat belt laws have guidelines for the child’s age, weight and height, type of seat being used, and location of the seat.
Car seats should be rear-facing for 1-year-olds and younger, can be forward-facing for 1 to 3, belt-position booster seats for 4 through 8, and vehicle seat belt system for 9 to 12.
It is recommended that all seat belt use be in the rear of the vehicle.
Car seats must meet federal motor vehicle safety standards and be used according to child safety restraint system or vehicle manufacturer’s instructions. Moore can explain, and instruct on, all of these requirements.
Some general instructions:
n Never place a rear-facing seat in front of an active air bag.
n Child safety seats cannot be used on side-facing jump seats.
n A booster seat should always be used with the vehicle’s lap and shoulder belt, high-backed booster seats are required when vehicle headrests are not available, and never allow a child to place the shoulder belt behind their back or under their arms.
n To maximize safety, keep your child in the car seat as long as possible, as long as the child fits within the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements.
n Follow your car seat manufacturer’s instructions and your vehicle owner’s manual on how to install.
n To find the best answer or resources for your particular child seat situation, visit www.tntrafficsafety.org and click on the “Child Passenger Safety” tab.