Sadie Says … Answers to frequently asked questions about safe driving

Q.: With summer vacation over and my daughter starting back to work, I will be babysitting my young grandson. Can you advise me how to be sure I’m transporting him safely?

A: Before you head out with your young passenger, do a safety seat check.

• Your grandson’s safety seat is facing in the right direction for his age. CHECK

Your grandson should ride rear-facing until your grandson is 2 years old (as per PA law); longer if the seat will accommodate his height and weight rear-facing.

• Your grandson’s safety seat is fastened in the back seat. CHECK

Children under age 13 should ride in the back seat.

If there is no back seat, and he must ride in the front seat, move the front vehicle seat as far back as possible and turn off the airbag. Never place a rear-facing seat in the front of an active air bag.

• Your grandson’s safety seat is secured correctly in your vehicle. CHECK

Read your vehicle owner’s manual and your grandson’s safety seat instructions; some seating positions in your vehicle may require seat belts to secure the seat, others may also have lower anchors and tether (LATCH) equipment. The seat should be locked in place with no more than one inch of side-to-side movement.

Also, some vehicles may have side air bags or may not allow placement of a safety seat in the center back seat location; check your vehicle owner’s manual.

• Your grandson is secured correctly in his seat. CHECK

Refer to your grandson’s safety seat owner’s manual for correct harness use and, if a booster seat without a harness, correct seat belt placement.

Harness straps should be at or below the child’s shoulders if the child is riding rear-facing, and at or above the shoulders if the child is riding forward-facing. Harness straps should fit snugly on the child, with the harness retainer clip at arm level.

One final but very important step:

• Everyone, including back seat passengers, is buckled up. Check!

Seat belt use is not restricted to front seat occupants; it is vital for the safety of every vehicle occupant that people riding in the back seat also buckle up.

In a crash, any one unrestrained becomes a powerful force and can injure or kill anyone else in the vehicle, even if that “anyone” is buckled up. One out of five passengers killed in crashes are killed by other passengers who aren’t buckled up.

Sept. 17-23 is Child Passenger Safety Week. Before you take your young passengers out for a ride, be sure they are restrained safely and securely. And remember, PA’s Child Passenger Safety Law is a primary law, which means that you, as the driver, are responsible for making sure all passengers under the age of 18 are correctly restrained, regardless of where they are seated in the vehicle.

Sadie Says … is brought to you by the Lycoming County Health Improvement Coalition’s Safe Communities Task Force, whose members include AAA North Penn, AARP, Area Agency on Aging and regional transportation and highway safety advocates.

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