LOGAN - According to statistics provided by Safe Ride 4 Kids, a mission that seeks to prevent injury and death to children in vehicle accidents, 72 to 84 percent of child restraints show critical misuses - the most common being using the wrong seat for the child's age and weight.
As part of the West Virginia Governor's Highway Safety Program, several local law enforcement agencies and medical professionals set up shop at the Fountain Place Mall on Friday morning to help local residents make sure their car restraints are installed safely and correctly.
Numerous officials including deputies with the Logan County Sheriff's Department, the West Virginia State Police, nurses from Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC), workers from WV Birth to Three and even an officer from the Ravenswood Police Department took part in the free child safety seat check. They made sure car seats were properly installed, weren't expired, were appropriate for the right age and weight group, and even provided some seats to residents.
"There's not a lot of education going on in this part of the state, so we're trying to initiate education into the proper installation of car seats in this side of the state," said Cpl. Rachel Grose with the WVSP Crimes Against Children Unit covering Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln, Logan and Mingo counties.
Grose, who has participated in similar checks in other parts of the state, said turnout for the check was high considering it was the first to be held in this region. She said she'd like to plan more for the area.
"As a police officer for 25 years, I've seen many motor vehicle crashes - a lot of people seriously injured and killed," said Logan County Sheriff Sonya M. Dingess Porter. "Some of those were kids, kids under the age of 8 years old who either weren't in a safety seat at all, were incorrectly in the seat or were ejected from the car.
"We want to do whatever we can to make sure our children are safe," she added.
West Virginia state law requires all children under the age of 8 and below the height of 4 feet 9 inches to be "properly placed, maintained and secured in a federally approved child passenger device." The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that children remain in rear-facing seats until age 2 or the weight/height limit of the seat. Forward-facing seats are recommended from about age 2 until age 4 and 40 pounds. Booster seats are the next steps after that.
Dylan Vidovich is a news reporter for HD Media. Contact him by phone at 304-896-5196 or follow him on Twitter @DVidovichLB.