EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The New Mexico Department of Transportation is partnering up with Safer New Mexico Now to educate parents on how to properly install their car seats and safely buckle in their kids.
NMDOT and Safer New Mexico Now will have a car seat fitting station from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on July 1 at the Sisbarro Buick-GMC at 425 W. Boutz Rd., in Las Cruces.
At the event, parents will be able to have their car seats properly installed and find out more about the safety benefits. Cheryl Cothern, a car seat safety passenger instructor with Safer New Mexico Now, said three out of four car seats are improperly installed in vehicles in the U.S., which poses a potential danger for children.
“The No. 1 reason kids are usually killed in crash is that they’re not properly restrained in a car seat,” said Cothern.
She explained that the state of New Mexico requires children to be in their car seat facing the rear up until they are 1 year old and weigh at least 20 pounds, but she recommends it to be as long as possible.
Facing the rear provides more protection from severe impacts of a car crash and protects the child’s head, neck and spine, Cothern said.
She advised parents to get a bigger car seat if the child’s heat is about an inch away from the top of the chair and if the chair has been used for more than six years.
“The oils from our hands, the heat and the cold, make the plastics very fragile, so after six years, it’s not a marketing ploy; it’s just they’re not sure if the plastic will be sturdy enough in the crash,” she explained.
She said many put their children into booster seats before it is allowed. In New Mexico, children have to be in a car seat or a booster seat until 7 years of age, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
For Texas, similar rules apply: children under 8 years old are required to be buckled in a car seat or a seat booster. Failure to do so can result in tickets up to $250, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.
The car seat fitting stations don’t take walk-ins and require an appointment. To register, visit www.safernm.org.