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Six children under the age of 8 died in crashes occurring in the Rio Grande Valley last year, children who were not secured in their seats.
Ray Pedraza of the Texas Department of Transportation’s Pharr district shared that grim detail Friday along with additional state data showing that nearly half of car seats are misused.
In 2022 alone, 16 of the 72 children under 8 who died in traffic crashes in Texas were unrestrained.
Now TxDOT and several other local agencies and institutions are launching a campaign seeking to raise awareness about car seat safety, and encouraging motorists to do something about it.
Parents are being asked to have their child’s car seat inspected by a certified technician Tuesday, when DHR Health together with TxDOT, the Nurse-Family Partnership and the RGV Passenger Safety Coalition will be providing free inspections.
The event will be held from 9 to 11 a.m. at the DHR Health Family Medicine Center, located at 1000 E. Dove Ave. in McAllen. DHR Health also asks that you bring your child with you to the inspections, where residents will learn about lesser-known aspects about car seat safety. Car seats have expiration dates, for instance.
Call (956) 362-4531 or (956) 362-4037 to book an appointment.
Residents can also schedule a safety check with TxDOT at any time of the year by visiting SaveMeWithASeat.org. Just enter your ZIP code to find a state traffic safety specialist near you.
These efforts are part of TxDOT’s “Save Me With a Seat” campaign and National Child Passenger Safety Week, which is observed from Sept. 17 to 23. They seek to inform residents that state law requires children under 8 — or who are shorter than 4 feet, 9 inches in height — to be secured in a car seat when traveling in a passenger vehicle.
Fines of up to $250 can be imposed if children are not properly secured in their car seats.
“Immediately after the crash, I climbed in the back seat. In that moment I knew it worked,” Mandy Watson, who was involved in a head-on collision with her 11-month-old and 5-year-old children more than a decade ago, said in a TxDOT news release Friday. “I knew their car seats did everything they were supposed to do, because they were still intact, still in place, and I could hear my babies crying.”
TxDOT said Watson “had been trained to properly secure her children in their car seats, preventing an unthinkable tragedy.”
“It’s extremely important that parents schedule a car seat check today,” TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams further noted in the release. “Ensuring car seats are installed correctly is one of the most important things a parent or caregiver can do to protect the smallest occupants in a crash.”