Stacey Cox, mother of two, wants to make sure her family stays safe on the roadway.
“I think the safety of my children is the most important thing and anything I can do to keep them safe, I’m going to do it,” Cox said.
Every year, she tries to stop by a car seat checkpoint put on by the Oak Ridge Police Department and the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, where certified technicians go from vehicle to vehicle, examining car seats to make sure these safety tools are properly installed.
“It’s good to have an extra set of eyes checking things out,” she said, “especially an extra set of eyes that knows what they’re doing.”
More often than not, errors are discovered.
“We have found through these events that most car seats are installed improperly,” Lt. John Kelly, with the Oak Ridge Police Department, said.
Kelly said families make common mistakes when setting up their car seat.
“The seat is not properly secured in the car. It’s too loose, tends to flop around a little bit or the harness straps are too loose,” Kelly said. “Or on a chilly morning like this morning, parents will put the child in the seat with a big coat on and then put the harness straps on. That’s kind of opposite of what we’re looking for. We want to see the child secured in the seat first and then put a coat or a blanket over the child.”
Trained technicians additionally look out for things that are harder to spot, like manufacture recalls or child seat expirations. Typically, a child seat expires after six years before having to be replaced with up to date ones.
The event serves as not just a safety check, but also a teaching tool for parents.
“Learning to make sure that he is safety strapped in and buckled accordingly,” Larquisha Jordan said. “I’m like do I have it the right way? I’ll always take learning advice. There’s always something to be done right.”
When it comes to children and cars, Cox said it’s always wise to put safety first.
“It really could be lifesaving,” Cox said.