Georgia State Patrol troopers, newly certified as Child Passenger Safety Technicians, will conduct free child seat safety checks Friday to help make riding along more secure for infants and children.
Earlier this week, 20 troopers from GSP Post 45 took the class at Franklin Chevrolet, learning the proper method to install child safety seats, said Capt. Kirk McGlamery, supervisor for GSP's F Troop, which covers 22 counties. "By July 1, 2011, all troopers will be trained as (safety technicians)," he said.
As part of the exercise and as a public service, troopers will be in front of the Statesboro Mall, where the old BB&T building was located, offering free safety checks from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Friday, he said. No tickets will be given if a child safety seat is installed incorrectly, but troopers will show drivers how to properly install the seats.
"Ninety-eight percent of people put their child seats in wrong," McGlamery said.
Ed Weaver, an officer with the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, said most people put the seats in the wrong place, in the wrong position, or with the straps incorrectly placed. Weaver assisted with the safety training in Statesboro.
Powell Harrelson, a law enforcement coordinator with the Governor's Office, helped McGlamery organize the training exercises after a meeting earlier this year. They held the first training class with 12 troopers. The current class consisted of 20 troopers, the largest number a class can hold. Another in March is expected to have as many attendees, he said. By April, the remainder of the troopers are expected to be certified.
Traffic accidents are the number one killer of children under age 14, said Zetta Jones, lead instructor with the Georgia Department of Community Health. Children under age 6 are required by Georgia law to ride in properly installed car seats; but Jones advises children should be strapped into the seats until age 8.
"Children under 4'9" should be in a booster seat," she said.
Children in a booster seat "reduce the risk (of injury in an accident) by 56 percent."
Harrelson said the training and certification will help troopers educate others as well as aid in their investigation of accidents.
McGlamery encourages citizens to stop by the spot in front of the Statesboro Mall between 1 and 3:30 p.m. Friday for a free safety check to learn how to install their child seats properly. For more information contact Georgia State Patrol Post 45 at (912) 688-6999.
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.