Parents, caregivers and others were given the opportunity to learn a little more about current car seat regulations and how to properly secure their child into the car during a free check-up safety event in Denison last week.


The drive-up clinic Thursday was held for the first time at Texoma Health Foundation Park and was hosted by the Texas Department of Transportation and the Denison Police Department. Attendees took tips and went through safety checklists with representatives of both agencies before getting a hands-on check of their setup before getting back on the road with their kids.


“Three out of four children aren’t properly secured in their car seat or they’re placed in a seat that’s installed incorrectly,” TxDOT Safety Technician Monica Yates said. “We’re setting out to change that.”


Car seats come with a lot of straps, buckles and attachment points and its critical, Yates said, that all are used properly for the desired configuration.


“Today, we’ve seen people use the seat belt and the lower anchor, and you should never use both,” Yates said. “Naturally, we want to keep our kids secure and it’s understandable that we think it might be best to use both, but you should never do that. Another big misuse that we see is parents forgetting to use the tether when they turn their kids to a forward facing direction.”


Denison Police Lt. Mike Eppler said young children aren’t able to tell whether they’re securely fastened in their seats, so adults have to assume the responsibility and educate themselves on the proper installation techniques.


“Children are totally dependent upon their parents and adults for their safety,” Eppler said. “We want to make sure that they have the knowledge to keep them safe because having a child involved in a tragedy is the worst kind of tragedy.”


Geri Griffin attended the clinic with her nine-month-old son, Austin and four-year-old daughter, Abby.


“As a parent, I drive a little a slower, stay aware of what’s going on around me and always double check to make sure these little harnesses are up where supposed to be,” she said. “But, we just transitioned from an infant carrier to a big kids seat — one of those convertible ones. I wanted to make sure that I had installed that one correctly.”


Yates said the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children be kept in a rear-facing position for as long as their age-appropriate seat allows because it further protects a child’s head, neck and spine in the event of a crash. Yates said children should be kept in a car seat until they weigh roughly 85 pounds and stand four-feet, nine-inches tall.


“And they should not be in the front until they’re 13 years old,” Yates said. “Airbags come out with a lot of force and can injure the child. We understand that families may be large and a child may have to sit in the front seat, so when that happens, make sure that the seat is positioned all the way back.”


Both departments agreed that the first go of the clinic was a success and intend to hold the event again next year. In the meantime, Yates said area drivers can still reach out to TxDOT for safety tips and information.


“We have a safety technician here in Sherman, so anyone who wasn’t able to make it out can always call our office and we’ll help them,” Yates said.


The TXDOT Sherman office can be reached by calling 903-892-6529.


Drew Smith is a reporter for the Herald Democrat. Contact him at asmith@heralddemocrat.com.