12 Defenders: Car Seat Safety - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

12 DEFENDERS: Car Seat Safety

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Tyra Sellers high fives an ADPH car seat technician after getting fitted for her new seat. Tyra Sellers high fives an ADPH car seat technician after getting fitted for her new seat.
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Attention parents!  Your driving habits could kill your children. And it all has to do with the way you place them in the car.

Nationwide, car crashes are the number one cause of death for children 1 to 12 years old.

In Alabama alone, 145 children in that age range have died in the last 5 years.

All it takes to keep that from happening is the proper child safety seat and the knowledge of how to use it.

Little Tyra Sellers' parents are trying to prevent their daughter from being yet another statistic.

"It was key things that we didn't know," says her father Cory Jackson.

Instead of too little protection, "we learned that we had too many restraints on her seat," says her mother, Laquanda Sellers.

For three hours, once a month, certified technicians fit kids to car seats at the Alabama Department of Public Safety's car seat check.

They share the do's and don'ts of car seat safety--like how too much protection could trap the children and too little could kill them.

"It's a good thing for people to learn," adds Sellers.

But that's just the thing.

"It holds the kid in place with the straps plus the seat will take all the crash forces," says Woody Johnston, a Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor.

Johnston says most parents may know their child needs a car seat, However, they don't use it correctly.

"The child restraint not being placed in the vehicle tight enough, placement of the harness straps, tightness. These straps...when you put them on the child, you should not be able to pinch this strap up at all."

Johnston contracts with the state of Alabama--teaching child passenger safety classes including state laws governing how children should ride in cars.

He admits most parents don't know the law, either.

We tested his theory at a local park.

"Do you know what the child restraint law is in the state of Alabama?" he asks Capricia Jones.

"As long as it's buckled in with the seat belt going across the front and seat belt across the back," she says.

"Ok, you got the basics of the law, but do you know how old they have to be in each of their seats?" asks Johnson.

"At least 4," says Jones.

Then we spotted another driver pulling into the parking lot with kids in the back seat--unbuckled.

"Do you know what the law in Alabama is for child restraints?" asks Johnston.

"Uh, I think it's uh, gotta be by the weight," says parent Courtney Matthews.

Neither parent knew the answer.

Alabama law states:

-Children must sit rear facing in a car seat until they're one year old or 20 pounds.

-At that age, they must still stay in a car seat but can face forward until they're 5 years old or 40 pounds.

-Once out of the car seat, they must remain in a booster seat until they're at least 6 years old.

While the law doesn't state how to use the car seat, Johnston suggests keeping that top of mind.

"This needs to be at armpit level regardless of whether the child's forward facing or rear facing. What that does is helps keep those straps from flying off the child's shoulders if you were involved in a crash," says Johnston.

We gave the parents a copy of the law and some helpful tips.

"So this is something you're gonna make sure and implement?" we asked.

"Yes," says Jones.

"We should know what we need to do with the kids in order to make sure they're safe," adds Matthews.

According to officials at the Alabama Department of Public Health, if you're caught without proper child safety restraints you could be fined $25 and get a point on your license.

For more information on child seat safety visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's web site.

To find out where your local Car Seat Inspection Station is click here

To register for the Alabama Department of Public Safety's Car Seat Check Clinic call: 334-206-3359

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