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For safest ride, buckle your stuff, not just yourself

Spokane police Officer Teresa Fuller explains how to place and secure a child car seat.  (CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane police Officer Teresa Fuller explains how to place and secure a child car seat. (CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON / The Spokesman-Review)

A 10-pound toy poodle has the force of a 300-pound cannonball in a 30 mph crash.

A laptop computer or cell phone can turn deadly when a vehicle comes to a sudden stop.

Spokane police Officer Teresa Fuller wants motorists to be mindful of the danger of having loose objects in a vehicle while driving. It’s part of an ongoing safety campaign that includes proper use of child safety seats. Last week was National Child Passenger Safety Week.

“Be cognizant of anything that’s loose in your car. It can be a projectile,” Fuller said.

Items should be stored in glove compartments, under the seat or in other storage areas. Cargo barriers are good for hatchbacks and station wagons. Large items should be secured in the trunk. In Britain, a golf ball flying out of a golf bag broke the back of a driver.

The same caution goes for unbelted passengers in the back seat, who can be thrown forward and injure or kill occupants in front, Fuller said.

One study showed the risk of death is four times greater for a front-seat occupant traveling with unbelted rear seat passengers.

Protecting children requires the correct use of the proper child seats.

“I would say the biggest mistake parents make is graduating their children too soon to the next step,” from rear-facing infant and toddler seats to forward-facing child seats, Fuller said.

Very small children are especially vulnerable to paralyzing injuries, since a third of babies’ weight is in their heads, and their spines are not fully formed, Fuller said.

A child should be fastened into a rear-facing seat for as long as he or she is below the seat’s weight rating, she said.

Fuller said her daughter is 20 months old and rides in a rear-facing seat.

Proper installation is critical, too. The seat should move no more than an inch, and restraint harness fabric should not be so loose it can be pinched into a fold. Also, the harness retainer should be clipped at armpit level.

One of the biggest mistakes is to place a child seat in the front passenger seat. In Spokane two years ago, a child riding in a rear-facing child seat secured to the front passenger seat died when an air bag deployed.

Children should not use regular seat belts until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall. Because they have a six-year safety life, only new child seats should be used. For more information, go to and follow the link to traffic and collisions, or visit for information from the Safe Kids Coalition.

Team goes green

The Clean Team in downtown Spokane is going green.

The Downtown Spokane Partnership is trying out a small electric car for litter and graffiti cleanups, security patrols and maintenance.

Mayor Mary Verner, who has been promoting a green conversion in Spokane, called the development a “dream come true.” The car, from a Post Falls dealership, has a solar panel that supplies much of the vehicle’s energy.

“I think the downtown Spokane Clean Team is going to a deeper level of clean,” Verner said. “This is part of growing a green economy here.”

Dealer Kent Votaw, of Go Green Electric in Post Falls, said the $12,000 vehicle has 7.5 amps of power and can be plugged in for recharging if cloudy days prevent the solar panel from keeping up. Electricity needed to power the car is 20 times cheaper than gasoline, he said, and the vehicle has a range of 40 to 60 miles on a single charge.

Downtown Spokane Partnership officials hope to buy their own electric car next year.

Road closures

•Hatch Road from 43rd to 54th avenues remains closed for reconstruction as part of the city’s 10-year street bond plan.

•Broadway Avenue remains closed from Havana to Freya streets under a $2.1 million project to realign Broadway in advance of a project to build a bridge on Freya north of Broadway.

•Another $2.1 million project has closed Driscoll Boulevard between Alberta and Assembly streets.

•Argonne Road from Wellesley Avenue to Bigelow Gulch Road is beign repaved, with flaggers and delays expected.