On the morning of May 27th Windham Police and AAA Northern New England greeted motorists in the Manchester School parking lot as parents dropped off their children. The goal was to raise awareness of the importance of Maine’s child passenger safety law. Police officers handed out informational flyers and if they observed a child buckled correctly and in the appropriate seating position, they issued a special ticket… Normally people don’t like receiving tickets but these tickets were different because they were coupons for The Ice Cream Dugout… rewarding children for their commitment to auto safety.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death and injury for all children. Wearing a safety belt properly is the single most effective way of reducing injury or death. Safety belts contact the strongest parts of the body if worn correctly, spread crash forces over a wide area, help the body slow down and protect the brain and spinal cord. Parents should correct safety belt misuse when children flip the belt behind their back or under their arms. All vehicle occupants need to be properly restrained by seat belts or child safety seats to prevent injury in case of a sudden stop, swerve or crash.
Most students that attend Manchester School are under the age of 13 so this means they should be riding in the back seat if possible. If a child must ride in the front seat, the vehicle seat should be moved back as far as possible due to the presence of airbags.
“The vast majority of the motorists dropping off children indicated that they were unaware that the law requires children 12 years of age and under to be seated in the back seat when possible,” said Officer Matt Cyr.
“We found that many of the children were riding in the front seat with their backpack on their lap or riding in the back seat with their backpack on their back,” added Cyr. Backpacks should be stored in the trunk or on the floor of the back seat to keep them from interfering with the restrain systems or becoming a projectile.
Many state and local law enforcement agencies are currently participating in Maine’s click it or ticket campaign which aims to increase safety belt use. In the words of Windham’s famous high school sports announcer Bob Witham (says it at the end of every competition)…. Buckle up and drive home safely!
The Maine Law
Maine’s Child Passenger Safety (CPS) law is one of the strongest in the country.
The law requires that:
Children who weigh less than 40 lbs. must ride in a child safety seat;
Children who weigh at least 40 lbs., but less than 80 lbs. and less than 8 yrs. old, ride in a federally approved child restraint system;
Children who are more than 8 yrs. old and less than 18 yrs. old and more than 4 feet 9 inches in height should be properly secured in a safety belt and;
A child under 12 yrs. old and who weighs less than 100 lbs. is properly secured in the back seat of the vehicle, if possible.
Violation of Maine’s Primary Safety Belt Law results in a $50 fine for first offense
Did you know that 96 percent of all car seats are installed or used incorrectly?
Monthly Car Seat Inspections - Third Saturday of each month North Windham Fire Station 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Appointments are recommended.
Seat Belt Tips:
The lap belt should fit the child low across the hips and thighs, not across the abdomen.
The shoulder belt fits across the collarbone and chest. It should not cut into a child’s abdomen or neck.
Children under age 13 should be properly restrained in the back seat.
Teenagers should wear lap and shoulder belts in every seating position in a motor vehicle.