October 26, 2009 in City

Parents pressured to buckle

Campaign finds one in four children improperly secured
By The Spokesman-Review

Spokane County sheriff’s Deputy Craig Chamberlin hands an “attaboy” flier to a parent dropping off her children at Moran Elementary School on Oct. 21. The woman received recognition as part of a weeklong campaign because her children were properly buckled in.
(Full-size photo)

It’s the law

Under state law, a child must be fastened into the appropriate restraint system until age 8, unless the child is 4-foot-9 or taller. Also, children under 13 must be buckled into the rear passenger seat.

One in four children was not buckled in properly last week when they arrived by vehicle at three elementary schools in the Spokane area.

Spokane police Officer Teresa Fuller said she encountered a family at Arlington Elementary School on the North Side where a 5- and 7-year-old were both buckled into the front seat, a double violation of the law.

Both should have been riding in booster seats in the rear passenger area, she said.

“A lot of people are confused about or don’t know the law,” she said.

The officers said they were not surprised by the discovery last week during a special awareness campaign at Arlington, Liberty Lake and Moran Prairie elementary schools.

Getting the message across has been slow and frustrating for officers, who keep seeing the same violations over and over.

There is some complexity to the regulations depending on age, height and weight, which affects the types of child restraints that must be used. But that is not an excuse for parents and other responsible adults not to know the law, Fuller said.

From 2002 through 2008, 10 children were killed in Spokane County in vehicle accidents and 54 others were seriously injured.

The Spokane Regional Health District said parents who are careful when their children are small sometimes lose their sense of caution as their kids get older.

Fuller said parents tell her they don’t want to argue with their children about getting into a booster seat or riding buckled up in the rear. But parents have to take charge, she said.

During the weeklong campaign, officers talked with drivers dropping off their kids and asked violators to begin following the law.

In addition, children were given a pledge to sign agreeing to follow the law on their own. Those who signed received prizes.

For more information on proper child restraints, call Safe Kids Spokane at (509) 324-3613 or visit www.800buckleup.org or www.srhd.org /topics/carseats.asp.

Nighttime seat-belt use spotlighted

Spokane law enforcement agencies are in the middle of a new nighttime seat belt enforcement campaign, through Nov. 8.

They are using a $24,900 grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to put extra officers on the streets to increase compliance.

Seat belt use in Washington was 96.5 percent in 2008, one of the highest rates in the nation, but the number of unbuckled vehicle occupants increases at night.

Participating agencies are Spokane police, Spokane Valley police, Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and the Washington State Patrol.

Sensors being installed at border

On Wednesday and Thursday, crews will be working on replacing traffic sensors in pavement at the Washington weigh station near Stateline on Interstate 90. The work could cause lane restrictions and possible delays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Water work restricts Highway 2 lanes

U.S. Highway 2 between Sunset Boulevard and Spotted Road will have a lane restriction for westbound traffic for the next six to eight weeks during installation of a 36-inch water main. The work will be outside the paved shoulder but will require shoulder and lane restrictions.

Projects finished, roads reopening

Craig Road between Thorpe and McFarlane roads has been reopened after installation of a transmission main to the vicinity of Fairchild Air Force Base.

After being closed for months for rehabilitation, 37thAvenue from Perry to Regal streets reopened to traffic on Friday.

Trent Avenue from Freya Street east to Mission Avenue and Myrtle Avenue between Trent and Mission are expected to reopen Tuesday. They were closed for sewer installation.

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